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Gent.*s Tailors 


In the Front 
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Iliis is the outside 

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Established over 70 Years Ago 





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317-319 HIGH STREET 


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and the Best can he had 



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No. 2135 Cowdenbeath 










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Our 30 assistants at our Cowdenbeath 

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Go To It ! 





Phone 2103 

Alex. Ferguson & Son 


210 High Street, Cowdenbeath 

" Where Granny 

did her Shopping. 1 

Yes! We have been serving our fellow townsfolk 
since the founding of the Burgh. We trust to 
merit the continued support of future generations 
and hope when the Centenary comes to he able to 
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of satisfied Customers hare dealt with us. 









Monday to Friday (incl.) continuous from 5.45 p.m. 
Saturday, Two Houses, at 6 and 8.30 p.m. 

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A. Westwater 

Athletic Outfitter 

Hardware and China Merchant 


The Firm with a seventy years' 

reputation for sterling worth 

and efficient service 

After Fifty Years 


Commercial Hotel 



Alexander Campbell 

History of 




1890- 1940 

I. II. MACK 1 1: Ov:' CO.. I.TIV 

19 4 1. 

Cowdenbeath from North-West. 




History of Cowdenbeath 

»> 11 

Preface by 



I have been privileged to sec an advance copy of the " H-' ]tory of 
Cowdenbeath." While I was looking forioard with interest to lea<n of the 
early life of the Burgh, I must admit a pleasant surprise at the wealth of 
information contained in this volume note presented to the public- I must 
congratulate the Author on the excellence of the production, and 1 am 
sure the vast majority of the inluibitants of the toivn will find a great 
deligJit in reading the very interesting incidents that marked the life of 
the village and the early days of tiie Burgh. 

Like the rest of the inhabitants. I had no idea that Cowdenbeath had 
such an interesthig history, and. as Provost of the town with many years' 
experience in municipal work. I must congratulate the pioneers on their 
splendid work which laid the foundations of the excellent town we have 
to-day and of which we have just cause to be proud. 

The life of Cowdenbeath from the formation of the Burgh 50 years 
ago has been one of steady progress. I am quite sure that a large number 
of these books will find their way across the Atlantic and to all parts of 
the world w)iere Cowdenbeath natives have made their homes, and to 
those I send tlie greetings of tfie town on tiie historic occasion of f/ic 
Jubilee of the Burgh. 

Like the rest of you. I deeply deplore the circumstances which have 
prevented us from celebrating the Jubilee of the BurgJi in the Difliiiici 
befitting such an occasion, but my message to-day is one of encouragement 
and strong hopes that soon the War will be over and, in celebrating our 
national victory, we may still have an opportunity to carry out our local 
Jubilee celebrations. May tliat be very soon- 

Cowdenbeath, April 1941. 



■ k History of Cowdenbeath 


Now that the History of Cowdenbeath is an accomplished fact, I 
wish to express the great pleasure I have experienced while collecting 
the material for this work. On reviewing it, I have only one regret to 
voice. I would have liked, had I been permitted to have dealt with, 
individually, many more of the outstanding characters of the village and 
town whom I have been privileged to meet in my lifetime — nearly all spent 
in Cowdenbeath. These include the different Provosts of the town, includ- 
ing the " Big-hearted Geordie Penman," Jimmy Murray the barber (the 
local poet) and all the others who have helped to brighten the town. I 
feel also I should have specially referred to the outstanding personality 
of Mr George Terris, who surprisingly found the time outside of his 
multifarious duties to do so much good anonymously for the community. 

Outside of the list of men in public life I have always been impressed 
with the many modest personalities lying in Beath Churchyard whose lives 
could easily be associated with the beautiful passages in Gray's " Elegy." 
I just mention one I can easily picture in my mind — an old white-haired 
lady, long before the introduction of district nurses, who went about the 
town nursing the poor and needy sick. Her only call to her self-imposed 
duty was the knowledge that some poor person was sick and needed nursing 
and attention, and her only reward was the knowledge that she had done 
something to relieve pain and to stretch out the hand of sympathy in this 
practical manner. I have met this dear old lady at all hours of the night 
and in all weathers, and I have on many occasions raised my hat 
to her as she passed me on her errands of mercy. Her name — Mrs Hunter, 
Union Street. 

This dear old lady and others I met years ago were the remnants of a 
beautiful trait found in Cowdenbeath in its mining village days. It was 
very pronounced in the " miners' raws," and of which a writer has written 
truly : — 

" In cases of sickness, death, or accident, the latter in a mining com- 
munity, coming upon them at a moment's notice, a sympathetic neighbour 
is a friend indeed, and it is to her the afflicted one goes for sympathy in the 
full knowledge that she will not be denied. Should one be sick the other 
will send her daughter or go herself to ' tidy up her hoose/ make the meals, 
and attend to the general comforts of both her and her family. In time 
of mourning and sadness she also mourns, and is a great comfort in an afflic- 
tion, her kindly words and tactful disposition opening out a means of relief 
to the bereaved. 

" In time of rejoicing — a birth, marriage, or a christening — a next door 
neighbour is of great assistance, and enters the spirit of the event as much 
as the woman herself. Her household effects and her labours are given 
with a spirit of ' neeborliness ' knowing well that such services will also be 
returned in her time of need." 

In closing I wish to thank all those ladies and gentlemen who have 
placed necessary information at my disposal, and I feel I must mention the 
Rev. G. P. McWilliam and those officials of the Town Council and Parish 
Council who have so unsparingly given me their assistance. 

■)•' >H 

I.* it "! 


History of Cowdenbeath 



Her Impressions 


WHEN Queen Victoria passed 
through Cowdenbeath on 
her way to Balmoral, just 
before the introduction of 
the railway service, she did 
not appear to be favourably impressed 
by the appearance of the village and its 
surroundings. One can scarcely be sur- 
prised that the change from the beauti- 
ful surroundings of the River Forth area 
to the marshland and moorland country 
of the West Fife mining area should 
have created such an impression. 

In these bleak and unpromising sur- 
roundings the village of Cowdenbeath 
was situated, but, out of the midst of 
these, it has, by the untiring efforts ot 
its inhabitants and their elected repre- 
sentatives, arisen to its present state 01 
prosperity and importance. Although, 
in the ordinary course of events, mis- 
takes have been made and many laud- 
able schemes frustrated by reason of 
inexperience and lack of foresight it 
must be chronicled that much good has 
been accomplished and many note- 
worthy schemes carried to a successful 


Opinion is divided as to the origin of 
the word "Cowdenbeath." It is a 
common belief that the word was de- 

rived from two old words which mean 
"valley of birches," and this interpre- 
tation has been accepted to the extent 
that the birch tree finds a place in the 
badge of Beath Secondary School. 
Another conjecture is that the word 
" beath " means an estate, and this is 
strengthened by the fact that so many 
place names in the neighbourhood end 
in " beath," such as Meiklebeath. Steven- 
sonsbeath, Leuchatsbeath, Halbeath. and 
Swintonsbeath. Certainly, the names 
of Swinton, Stevenson and Meikle give 
the impression that these were owners 
of small estates which bore their names, 
and it may be assumed that Cowden- 
beath was once a small estate owned by 
a man named " Gowden" 


How did Cowdenbeath come into 
existence ? In Blaeus Map of Fife, pub- 
lished in 1654, Cowdenbeath is marked 
as " Cowden Beth." It can therefore be 
taken for granted that there was a place 
of that name at that date, but the prob- 
ability is that it existed at a much earlier 
period. This is borne out to some extent 
by the many geographical mistakes ' in 
the map. For instance, » .large sheet of 
water is shown at the foot of Hjum 
Beath, which appeal's as several hills 
named Hills of Bath. At the time of the 


t'£, yi?X&£t~ ■:■> -'U^-- &■*+■? 





History of Cowdenbeath 

Reformation, and the Protestant activi- 
ties which preceded it, a conventicle was 
,. held on Hill of Beath, so that it can be 
taken for granted that there was only 
one hill, not several as seen in Blaeus 
map, and this conventicle was held in 
the reign of Henry VIII. of England, who 
reigned from 1509 to 1547. It is quite 
possible, however, that the sheet of 
water at Hill of Beath may be meant for 
the small pond we have always known 
as the Bleachfield Pond, and the "river" 
shown on the map may refer to the 
small burn that leads from it to Loch- 
gelly Loch. If this is so, it only streng- 
thens the contention that the map was 
badly drawn, as Bleachfield Pond does 
not lie at the base of the Hill of Beath, 
nor has it the dimensions of a loch, and 
the size of the small burn that flows 
from it past the new sewage works is 
much exaggerated. A church is shown 
at Lumphinnans situated near the River 
Ore at about the vicinity of No. XL 
Colliery. The River Tay is named Tay 
Fluvius, but it was called the River Tay 
long before 1654. From these and other 
indications in the map, it is thought that 
Blaeus, who was a Dutchman, must have 
reprinted his map from a much earlier 

When the actual name of Cowden- 
beath came into being is not known, but v 
it is thought it originated when turnpike 
roads were first made and that it marked 
the spot of an inn and later of a toll- 
house erected in the seventeenth 


Who the earliest inhabitants were is a 
very hard auestion to answer. Accord- 
ing to " Fife : Pictorial and Historical." 
" a battle was fought here in ancient 
times between the Caledonians and the 
Romans, in which the latter were driven 
from the field. The site of a Roman 
Camn has been traced at a short distance 
to the North-West of the Parish of 
Beath." It is generallv considered that 
that refers to the old golf course on 
Leuchatsbeath, though that can hardly 
he described as North-West. It could 
be more appropriately described as 
North-East, although there is a common 
belief that at one time Beath stretched 
much further East, and in that case the 
description would be correct. The story 
of Leuchatsbeath being a Roman Camp 

site has been handed down verbally 
through the generations. 

Early Britons 


But there were inhabitants here be- 
fore the Roman Conquest, as proved by 
the burial urns found on Cowdenbeath 
golf course in 1928. There were 
in all five such urns, all of which had 
been buried so near the surface that 
each one had been broken at the top by 
a plough-share. They were in such a 
condition, however, that two of them 
were re-made and are now at Cowden- 
beath after being on exhibition in a 
museum in Glasgow and Kensington 
Museum in London. 

According to two Archaeologists. Mr 
Ludovic Mann, of Glasgow, and Mr 
Lacaille, of London, they relate to 
a period before the Roman Age. 
Mr Mann stated that they were 
the burial urns of a race who 
entered Scotland from the North at a 
time when the only habitable grounds 
were highlands. They lived at different 
places for several years before migrating 
Southwards, and at each place they 
made a cemetery, always of the same 
shape, a round piece of ground sym- 
metrical in shape and fifteen yards from 
any point on the outside to the highest 
point in the centre. This measurement 
was tested by Mr Mann and was found 
to be correct. He further explained that 
the body was cremated on a fire of wood 
and what was left of the bones was 
placed in the urn and covered with a 
Dart of dried goatskin before it was 
buried. The urns were made of clay, 
and before they hardened in the sun's 
rays they were ornamented by placing 
dried grass in a pattern round the top. 
When the clav was hard the dried grass 
was removed. A stone hammer, with 
indentations for the fingers, fashioned 
to represent a human head, was also 
found nearby. Dr J. H. Veitch, of Cow- 
denbeath, was an interested spectator on 
the occasion of the visit of Mr Mann and 
Mr Lacaille. 

The following year Mr Lacaille. in his 
address to the Archaeological Society, 
stated that the find had been one of the 
most interesting archaeological discover- 
ies in recent years. 


History of Cowdenbeath 


This is a photograph of some of the relics. 

On the left and right are two shards 
or sepulchral urns often described as 
Cinerary Urns- The one on the left con- 
tained the cremated bones of a female 
and a young person, while the one on 
the right contained the cremated bones 
of a large person, probably a male. In 
this urn was found a small fragment of 
secondarily worked olive coloured Arran 
pitch stone, seen on the top of the box 
containing some of the bones found in 
the urns. In front of the urn on the 
right is the quartz hammer head 
fashioned into the shape of a human 

head. , ^ . , , 

Various archaeological experts, includ- 
ing a Professor of History from Poland 
and Sir Arthur Keith, F.R.S., Hon. 
F.S.A.. Scot., speak of the great import- 
ance of the find. 

The Professor of History states that 
the cemetery relates to the Neolithic 
Age which was from 3000 years B.C. to 
1800 B.C., and is of the opinion that the 
hammer head was an idol of some holy 
man" of that period, and of great his- 
torical value. Others maintain that 
there are indications that the cemetery 
was in use in the Bronze Age, such as 
the presence of green crust on a frag- 
ment of bone indicates that some brass 

or copper article had been buried with 
the bones in an urn, and the presence of 
the Arran pitchstone an " interesting 
indication of commerce or travel in the 
late Bronze Age, for although pitch- 
stone implements have already been 
noted from the Eastern Counties of Scot- 
land this is the first recorded example 
from a locality North of the Forth." 


In a very early Gazeteer Cowdenbeath 
was disposed of with two words, and 
they were: " See Lochgelly." The only 
information in that was that Lochgelly 
must have had more importance than 
Cowdenbeath at one time, which, in a 
way, brings out some of the truth of the 
old couplet which runs something like 
this: — 
"Lochgelly was Lochgelly when 
Cowdenbeath was a pup, 
Lochgelly will be Lochgelly when 
Cowdenbeath is petered up." 

The word "petered" is inserted here 
for politeness' sake, and Cowdenbeath 
will never admit the Lochgelly boast in 
that last line. How long Lochgelly had 
the great honour of embracing Cowden- 
beath in the matter of giving it a local 



History of Cowdenbeath 


habitation is only a matter of conjecture, 
but, in the next edition of the Gazeteer, 
Cowdenbeath had a space all to itself. 
Certainly it was not long, for it only 
stated that Cowdenbeath possessed a 
hotel and a church. Not much, but still 
it gives something to go on with. First 
of all, there was a church, although not 
in the village, so that it must have been 
Kirk of Beath, which not only was the 
only church for Cowdenbeath but for 
the whole of Beath Parish. 

Beath Church 

Beath Church is of great antiquity. 
We have information that the first Beath 
Church was built in the Thirteenth Cen- 
tury on or near the site of the present 
Church, which was built at a later date, 
but very little is known about Church 
affairs until the Reformation years- 
Actually twenty years previous to the 
Reformation the leaders in that move- 
ment met at Beath Church to discuss 
the spread of Protestantism. 

In the Seventeenth Century the Re- 
formers were still carrying on, and it is 
recorded that a great gathering of Pro- 
testants was held on Hill of Beath — a 
meeting that was attended by people 
from all over Fife. It is known that the 
speakers that day included two famous 
men— Rev. John Blackadder, the ejected 
minister of Traquair, and the Rev. John 
Dickson, who was removed from his 
charge at Rutherglen. The meeting was 
held in the well-known hollow at the 

top of the Hill, the crater of an exfmct 
volcano, associated with many of the 
Rev. Jacob Primmer's Protestant con- 
venticles at the end of the last and be- 
ginning of the present century. It was 
well known that the church dignitaries 
had the support of the military, to 
suppress such meetings, and on that 
occasion the military put in an appear- 
ance in the midst of the service. How- 
ever, the military, according to one 
statement recorded, had more gumption 
than the church dignitaries and the ser- 
vice was allowed to go on without 

By this time, the Stewarts or Morays, 
who own a great deal of the land in 
Beath, had settled down at Donibristle. 
The first to come was Sir James Stuart, 
a direct descendant of Robert, Duke of 
Albany, who obtained a charter confer- 
ring upon him the lands and barony of 
Beath in 1545. The next year his son, 
James, was appointed one of the Canons 
of Inch Colme, and in 1590 his son, 
Henry, followed him. He was the 
younger brother of the Bonnie Earl of 
Moray, who was murdered on the lawn 
of Donibristle House and who, according 
to the song written about him, " was too 
guid to dee." The Bonnie Earl had suc- 
ceeded to the title by his wife, the eldest 
daughter of the Regent Moray. The 
Charter which gave to Sir James 
Stewart the Barony of Beath is actually 
dated 1543, and was conferred on him 
for a very large sum in connection with 
the repair of the monastery lately 
burned by the enemies from England — 
the lands belonging to Baith, Kelty, the 
lands of Craigbeath, occupied by John 
Orrock. Kir Baith. occupied by John 
Drummond, Bathillocks, Hilltoun, 
Schelis (which later became Shiels), 
Eastertoun, Mourtoun and Nethertown. 
Coalheughlandis, with the coals thereof, 
occupied by John Bererage. and Mill of 
Beath with mill lands and multures 
thereof." Before the Reformation. 
Beath was under Dunfermline, and in 
1574 Alexander Steven was appointed 
Redaire of Beath at a stipend of £16 per 
year. One of the prominent reformers 
in this district at that time was the Rev. 
John Durie, who lived an adventurous 
life in carrying out his fight for the Pro- 
testant faith. In 1573 he was translated 
to Edinburgh, and was imprisoned for 
making an attack on the Royal family. 
Though admonished, he was banished 

History of Cowdenbeath 


from the city- The people demanded his 
return, and he had a triumphal entry to 
Edinburgh as a result. His connection 
with Cowdenbeath is that he had a pen- 
sion of " sixty six pundes thirteen shill- 
ings and fourpence " on the surety of 
rents in the Parish of Beath. This pen- 
sion was granted by Robert Pitcairn, 
the Commendator of Dunfermline. 


Why a Dunfermline Commendator 
could give away these sureties on Beath 
lands was something hard to understand 
until a charter was found, granted in 
1572 in connection with a " coal-heuch " 
by the Commendator of Dunfermline 
Abbey to Sir William Douglas of Loch 
Leven. The monks of Dunfermline 
were pioneer miners, as is well known, 
and worked on outcrop seams in Pitten- 
crieff Glen away back in the thirteenth 
century. Not only so, but it is very 
interesting to know from the charter in 
question that they had as well for many 
years drawn coal from a mine at Kelty. 


Several years ago an uncharted coal 
mine was discovered at Kelty in the 
vicinity of the present Blairadam Brick- 
work. It was found by workmen who 
were digging for clay for the brickwork 
at a depth of about 20 feet. They came 
across a narrow roadway about 3 feet 
broad and 3 feet high, along which it was 
quite apparent the coal was carried in 
the dark, the person carrying the coal 
being guided by a ledge of coal left for 
that purpose on the left hand side, so 
that while he or she (probably a he, if 
the coal was worked by the monks) 
carried the coal with his right hand and 
directed himself with his left. The 
shaft of that pit, if there was a .vertical 
shaft, was never discovered. In all 
probability it was only an incline and 
emerged at the surface and, of course, 
was filled in during the course of time. 


The date of the first Beath Church is 

also that of Aberdour and Dalgety 

Churches, as the charters were granted 

.by the Bishop of Dunkeld at the same 

time. However, while the original 
buildings of Aberdour and Dalgety still 
stand, the Church of Beath fell into 
ruins in the middle of the sixteenth 
century, and we are told that, following 
the Reformation, while all other 
churches in Fife had been planted and 
grew, poor Kirk of Beath was neglected 
and lay desolate. 


We are told that, on Sunday, instead 
of meeting to hear the minister or, as he 
was called, " pastoure," young and old 
assembled and made the "Lorde's Daye" 
one of profane mirth. At these meet- 
ings a '" pyper " sometimes appeared, and 
so strong a hold had " Sautin " on the 
people that many went as far as to dance 
and play football. Not only so, but the 
men sometimes " fell out and wounded 
one another." The church was neglected, 
and, as a result, we are told that the 
original pre-reformation church became 
frequented by nomads and became a 
shelter for sheep. 


Tli is is a terrible record for the early 
Cowdenbeath people, but here Kelty 
came to the rescue, and we find that a 
Mr Alexander Colville, belonging to 
Blair at Kelty, became tired of such 
scenes of debauchery and drinking in 
excess on the Sunday, and when he was 
" stirred by the Lord " he convened a 
meeting atKelty to consider the rebuild- 
ing of 'Kirk of 'Beath. He found this 
very difficult, as the people in the Parish 
were so poor; but he found many 
farmers, however, who gave the use of 
horses and carts free for the carting of 
stones from neighbouring quarries and 
others who gave their labours to the 
Committee, so that in a few months the 
reconstructed building was opened. Then 
there was a great revival, and so many 
people came from far and near, even 
" out of every citie." that there was diffi- 
culty in providing a preaching place for 
the pastor- Thus we have that much to 
thank Kelty for. 

History of Church 

At this time the Rev. John Rorr or 
Row of Carnock, mentioned in thft 



History of Cowdenbeutli 

records of the Kirk Session of Beath, 
took a great interest in Beath Church 
and had Beath created a separate 
ecclesiastical Parish, disjoined from 
Aberdour and Dalgety in 1643. But the 
Rev. Robert Bruce, minister of Aber- 
dour, Dalgety and Beath, was not too 
enthusiastic, for though he had neg- 
lected Beath very badly, he refused to 
surrender any of the endowments con- 
nected with Beath. We find him in 1646 
applying to the Estates of Parliament for 
the ratification of the document of 1637, 
placing him in charge of the three kirks 
and entitling him to constant stipend, 
teinds, fruits, rents and emoluments. He 
was successful, but the people of the 
Parish rose to the occasion and raised 
£1500 to provide a stipend for the 
minister, the Rev. Mr Smith of Culross. 
We sometimes wonder if the holding of 
a bazaar, whist drive and dance, raffle 
tickets or football sweepstakes (seeing 
that they played football on Sunday pre- 
viously) were the means of getting that 
£1500, for we read that the population 
of the Parish of Beath in 1801 was only 
613, and only rose by 116 in the next 
twenty years. It is feared that further 
records of the Church have been lost, 
until a minute book of Beath Kirk 
Session commences in 1691. It begins 
with the ordination of the Rev. Alex- 
ander Steedman on 9th June, 1691. In 
the second minute, that of a meeting 
held the same month, the names of 
David Dewar, Lassodie, John Stevenson 
of Stevensonsbeath, and Hutton of 
Hilton appear. This is very interesting, 
as it associates the well-known Laird 
Dewar with Lassodie and also gives an 
indication of how Stevensonsbeath, a 
part of Cowdenbeath, got its name. It 
is very unfortunate that the writing and 
spelling of the session clerk in these days 
is so difficult to decipher that much 
valuable information is lost. 

However, in a later book we can trace 
the ministers of the church from 1798. 
In that year the minister, the Rev. James 
Reid, died on 24th March, a gentleman 
who left behind him some interesting 
information about the church. The Rev. 
James Hutton followed on 16th August, 
1799, and he died in 1811, and the Rev. 
Thomas Millar was ordained in 1812. 
The next minister was the famous Dr 
Fergusson, who was ordained in 1815, 
and who was minister of the church 
until 1866. The Rev. Mr Hogg was 

minister until 1870, and in his place 
came the Rev. A. C. McPhail, who was 
minister for six years. The Rev. John 
Sinclair was the next minister, and he 
preached until his death in 1915. He 
was followed by the Rev. A. J. S. Dickie, 
who was translated to Cambuslang in 
1928. The Rev. Mr Marshall was only 
minister for a year, and in 1929 came the 
present minister, the Rev. G. P. 

Rev. Dr Fergusson, Beath Churcli. 


The Kirk Session of Beath did more 
than look after the interests of the 
church — they looked after the poor of 
the Parish and paid out poor relief prior 
to the passing of the Poor Law Act of 
1845- From the records, it is very appar- 
ent that the payments to the poor only 
provided for a bare sustenance, a matter 
of a few shillings per week in some 
cases and less in others. 


Another very interesting book in the 
possession of Beath Kirk Session is the 
Minute Book of the Berry Bequest, a 
fund to which many of the successful 
natives of Cowdenbeath have been in- 
debted for the education that fitted them 
for their present positions. There is a 
pathetic touch in the pretty story' of the 


History o/ Cowdenbeuth 


foundation of that Bequest, which is not 
generally known. Heading between the 
lines of the legal phraseology in a will 
that constitutes the Bequest, it is 
learned that a certain Francis Berry and 
his wife, Jean Currie of Moss-side, Cow- 
denbeath, had a son, John Berry, who 
was a student of divinity. He was their 
only son, and their hearts were set on 
his becoming a great preacher; but that 
was denied them by his untimely death. 
Just before his death he recommended 
his parents to set aside part of " what 
they were possessed " as a fund for edu- 
cating certain poor of the Parish. The 
parents willingly acceded to this request 
of their son, and on the death of the 
survivor of them in 1828 the Berry Be- 
quest came into existence. Many poor 
children were given free education at 
Cowdenbeath School and Kelty School 
at Cantsdam, and when school fees were 
abolished other children received fees 
for their education in Dunfermline High 
School and, in some cases, assistance 
to be educated at Edinburgh University. 
The money for the Bequest came from 
feu-duties and rents of house property 
in Lochgelly, where Francis Street and 
Berrv Street are named after the bene- 
factors. The last meeting of the Berry 
Bequest Committee was held in Loch- 
gelly on 1st March, 1885. and after that 
date the administration was placed in 
the hands of Beath School Board and, 
after the passing of the Education (Scot- 
land) Act 1918. to the Fife Education 


In connection with the days of Burke 
and Hare, who robbed newly mede 
graves of the bodies interred and took 
them to Edinburgh, Beath Churchyard 
has been spoken of as one of the places 
visited, and precautions were taken to 
prevent body-snatching. For many 
years what were taken to be two iron 
coffins without lids dug up from the old 
church vard lay near the old hearse 
house " These were not coffins, but were 
old-time " safes," and were of different 
size, and one was placed over the coffin 
to hinder the work of the body- 
snatchers. Another preventative was 
the placing of a large flat stone on top 
of the grave. This stone was very 
heavy and was placed on the grave 

and removed by means of a trestle hoist, 
the rope going through the stone and 
fastened on the under side, and it re- 
mained there until the danger of 
"snatching" was past. The two "safes" 
have disappeared, but the fiat stone is 
still to be seen near the church. In 
addition to the above precautions, the 
graves were guarded by armed farm 
workers, who kept watch for several 
nights at the churchyard. 


The fact that Beath Church supplied 
a very large area v/as responsible for 
many "kirke roads" coming into exist- 
ence, roads that form rights-of-way to- 
day; but several have been lost. One 
such road was from Lassodie, and 
entered upon the Old Perth Road about 
a hundred yards North of the Church. 
Another was from Lumphinnans direc- 
tion right through the present Public 
Park of Cowdenbeath. That has been 
lost .for want of being used. Another 
kirk road from Aberdour Parish crossed 
Broad Street at the old Bleachficld. Part 
of that road is used to-day, although 
slightly altered, at Moss-side Colliery. 
Another right-of-way brought about by 
being a kirk road was thought to be 
from Fordell. and took the track of the 
Fordell Colliery railway from the centre 
of the village to the site of the Alice Pit 
and joined the Moss-side right-of-way 
in Broad Street. 

One tombstone — that of the Aitken 
family of Loch-head — points to the 
existence of a kirk road from that farm 
over a mile to the East of Cowdenbeath, 
and that may have been the right-of- 
way that passed Foul ford Pit. known as 
the Fair Helen, 


In connection with that tombstone 
there is a very interesting story. This 
stone is a large flat one immediately to 
the South of the Church. One of the 
persons buried there was a Miss Aitken 
of Lochhead, who ordered that a 
hundred pounds be set aside for invest- 
ment and the interest from the money 
was to be taken to keep the grave neat 
and tidy, to keep the church walls and 
gates in repair, and the rest was to be 
given annually to the five poorest per- 


sons in the Parish. The first part of the 
instructions is being faithfully carried 
out, but there is no need for the second 
part, as the maintenance of the walls 
and gates is now the responsibility of the 
County Council. The last part, too, is 
being carried out, and each year the re- 

History of Cowdenbeath 

mainder of the interest on the money 
now invested in war loans, after the 
grave has been attended to, is given to 
the five poorest persons in the Parish 
There are always a number of persons 
who lay claim to be the poorest in the 
Parish," states the Rev. G. P. McWilluim. 

Cowdenbeath 50 Years Ago, showing Inn and Old Toll 

There is no doubt that the Inn men- 
tioned in the brief description of Cow- 
denbeath in the Gazeteer was the Cow- 
denbeath Inn. That building did not 
always stand where it does to-day. it 
was on the other side of the road where 
the premises of Messrs Dicks Co-opei- 
ative Institutions now stand, and previ- 
ously owned by Mr George Bickerton. 
There was a posting establishment at 
the rear, which was acquired by Cow- 
denbeath Coal Company. Limited, it 
was certainly an old building and was 
one of the many similar inns that stood 
on the side of main turnpike roads, and 
it is recorded that on one occasion it was 
the scene of the changing of horses when 
Queen Victoria coached to Balmoial. 
The Inn. on its present site, was built by 
Mr McLean, on whose death his widow 
married Mr John Brunton .who also 
owned Thistleford Farm; one of the few 
fanner* to own his own threshing mill 

driven by a water wheel, and many o\ 
the smaller farmers used to gel men- 
threshing done at his mill. On the death 
of Mr Brunton. the widow earned on. 
She was a very popular hostess m the 
village, and was familiarly spoken ot :i> 
Eezie McLean and later as Eezie brun- 
ton. On her death, the hotel was taken 
over bv Charles McLean, her son. He 
was followed by his .son, Mr \V.lum 
McLean, who was killed in Frame on 
the day that the Armistice was signed m 

' Brunton's Hall, on the opposite side 
of the street, was built by Mr Brimlou. 
and subsequently acquired by Cowdei - 
beath Co-operative Society. It w^ " 
Brunton's Hall that the public moot m« 
decided to form the village into a ButjJ> 
™ 24th November 1890. When the now 
turnpike road from Queensferry to 
Perth was constructed, the Innfiamjii 
much in importance. Before this timt\ 

History of Cowdenbeath 


the road to Perth did not pass through 
Cowdenbeath, but passed through Hill 
of Beath, Kelty and Maryburgh, where 
it took a sharp turn, and thence to the 
Parenwell Bridge. It can, then, be 
gathered that Cowdenbeath was made 
much more important when the new 
North Road was made and passed along 
Broad Street and High Street, long be- v 
fore Perth Road, as a street, was 
thought of- 


There is every reason to believe that 
" .Cowdenbeath was at one time only an 
agricultural district, with numerous 
crofts and small farms. Besides Thistle- 
ford Farm, there were the farms of 
White Threshes, where D.C.I, restaurant 
is now situated; another was in Union 
. Street; another was in High Street 
where the New Picture House now 
stands; and another where Armstrong's 
joiner workshop is situated; another, 
called McNaught's Dairy, in Foulford 
Road; another in the vicinity of Bowling 
Green Street, and another called Cow- 
denbeath Farm near the site of what is 
now No. 7 Pit, where hunting dogs were 
Little is known about Cowdenbeath in 
/ the early days, but from the rapid de- 
crease in the population at the close of 
the eighteenth century it may be 
assumed that it was then one of Scot- 
land's slowly decaying villages. 


In 1790 a statement was made that the 
population of Beath Parish had de- 
creased considerably within the orcvi- 
ous twentv years. This was not due to 
anv " epidemical distemper," for the 
people were very healthy, but because 
of the practice of laying out so much 
ground in grass, by which means the 
farmers carried on their labours with 
fewer hands than formerly. However 
an increase took place between 1821 and 
1831 because of the additional number 
of men employed at the collieries. Dur- 
ing the previous hundred years the 
copulation of the Jparish had increased 
from 450 to 8296. ( This increase, to a 
very large measure, referred particu- 
^- larlv to Kelty. where the digging of coal 
on the coal heughs had been carried on 
before it was started at Cowdenbeath. 

It is true to state that great poverty was 
prevalent, and an old lady of Cowden- 
beath, who died many years ago, said 
that at this time poverty was so rampant 
that a large marrow bone was used on 
successive days to make soup in cottar 
houses. She got this information from 
her aged mother, who resided for many 
years at Kirk of Beath. This was before 
the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846. 

The demand for the repeal of these 
Laws was taken up at Lochgelly, where 
a large procession was formed to come ' 
to Cowdenbeath. In the front was a 
very large loaf carried aloft by a promi- 
nent citizen of Lochgelly. 


The population of the Parish doubled 
itself in the next ten years — from 1252 
to 2390 — and the chief reason was the 
discovery of rich beds of iron ore at 


About 1850 the Oakley Iron Company, 
who had blast furnaces at Oakley, came 
on the scene- Shafts for iron ore were 
sunk in the vicinity of the old Foulford 
Washer. It was in the mining for ore 
that the discoveries of the coal seams 
were made, and pits were sunk at every 
corner of the town. Prior to this, coal 
had been mined at Fordell for over a 
century, but the discovery of the coal 
seams at the depth they were found 
came as a pleasant surprise, considering 
the dip in the coal strata at Fordell, and 
it was thought that at Cowdenbeath the 
seams would be at such a depth as to be 
almost unworkable, but it was found 
that the much condemned " hitches," 
instead of being a drawback had proved 
a blessing, for the disturbance of the 
metals had thrown up the coal seams to 
a much higher level. Iron ore became 
less valuable because of the large quan- 
tities found in Sweden, and coal gradu- 
ally took its place. 


One of the earliest pioneers in the coal 
industry in this district was a John 
Syme of Cartmore (then known as Kirk- 
moor), but little is known of him or his 
ventures. Small pits were opened out 
at many places. There were two in the 



History of Cowdenbeath 



vicinity of Jubilee Park, which were 
sunk only to the upper seams, and the 
coal was disposed of by a " hutch way " 
to two different points in High Street 
and carted to the various customers or 
to the docks at Burntisland. Oakley 
Iron Company became a Coal Company 
and their houses, which were on both 
sides of Broad Street near High Street 
became homes for coal miners instead of 
iron ore miners. By the time No 3 Pit 
was sunk, behind the present Labour 
Exchange, the North British Railway 
Company had come to the village and 
carried the coal for export to Burnt- 
island and Methil. 


One serious mining disaster falls to 
be recorded in the history of Cowden- 
beath. It occurred in 1901 outside the 
Burgh boundary, when eight men lost 
their lives. 

A number of men were working in a 
section of No. 12 Pit, Donibristle Col- 
liery, at a considerable distance from 
the pit bottom, and their task was to 
make an outlet to the surface. When 
they were working about fifteen yards 
from the surface they broke through 
into a bed of moss and peat. They were 
trapped by the thousands of tons of the 
liquid moss that surged in upon them. 

blocking all means of escape. The 
alarm spread, and a rescue party braved 
the dangerous task of trying to rescue 
their fellow-workers. They, too, were 
trapped. A second rescue party was 
formed from the hundreds of volun- 
teers, and they had just sent word to 
the surface that they had come across 
some of the men originally trapped 
when, all at once, there was another 
surge of the moss, and they, too were 
cut off. The work of rescue went on, 
and although some men were rescued, 
eight men lost their lives. Four of 
these — George Hutchison, Alexander 
Smith, William Forsyth and D. Camp- 
bell — had been originally entombed, 
while the other four were members of 
the first rescue party — William Hynd. 
James McDonald, Thomas Rattray (a 
member of Cowdenbeath Town Council) 
and Andrew Paterson. 

In recognition of their bravery, in- 
scribed gold watches were presented by 
the Proprietors of the Daily Telegraph 
to Messrs John Sneddon. John Jones and 
Robert Law. Gifts of a hundred pounds 
each were given by Mr Andrew Car- 
negie to these three men and also to Mr 
James Dick. and. in addition, all four 
were the recipients of a diploma and a 
medal of the Grand Priory Order of the 
Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem in 

Robert Law. 



History of Cowdenbeath 


John Sheddon 

Of these four men, only ex-Baihe 
Sheddon is alive. Law is the Law of 
football fame, and Jones was a well- 
known evangelist. Eighteen others re- 
ceived a gold medal suitably inscribed. 
A local author, referring to the incident, 
writes in li Character Studies of the 
Miners of West Fife ":— " In the forma- 
tion of a person's character the environ- 
ment exerts a powerful influence. This 
fact is strongly emphasised in the life of 
the miner and his family- His labour 
is of a perilous nature, and though his 
speech and manner may be apt to be 
rough and ready, the qualities that pro- 
duce heroes are often conspicuous. A 
very praiseworthy feature is the willing- 
ness with which* a miner will risk his 
life in the hope of saving the life of a 
fellow-workman. In such unfortunate 
disasters as Moss Morran, Donibristle. 
and at Hill of Beath, there was no need 
to call for volunteers to risk their lives 
to try and save the unfortunate men 
when" especially in the former instance, 
a yawning chasm in a treacherous bog 
was the only entrance. ' Abandon hope 
all ye who enter here ' seemed to be in- 
scribed round that veritable gate of 
death. Yet, notwithstanding the fact 
that experience taught them the great 
risk volunteers vied with each other to 
make a last effort to rescue the impris- 
oned men. And when all was over and 

the roll was called, who were found 
missing ? Four of the original party of 
volunteers. This action portrays the 
true miner. Who in their class would 
not have done likewise?" 


At the time when the coal trade 
started its boom. Cowdenbeath was 
divided into a few districts named after 
the various farms. One part was called 
Cowdenbeath, after the farm near the 
present No. 7 Pit. Another part was 
called White Threshes, called after the 
farm just on the Burgh Boundary on the 
Burntisland Road not far from the pre- 
sent Labour Club Rooms and Hall, 
better known locally as The Ritz. 
Another part was called Foulford. after 
the Foulford Estate, acquired later by 
the Cowdenbeath Coal Company, who 
took over the Forth Coal Company, 
known before as the Oakley Coal Com- 
pany. This district was in the vicinity 
of Union Street, and some distance to 
the East Foulford Pit was sunk. This 
pit was not very far from the original 
Foulford Pit which previously belonged 
to Lochgelly Coal Company and which 
later was used as an auxiliary shaft, for 
the new pit. There were, however, two 
other districts— Kirkford. in the vicinity 
of Cross Keys on the Old Perth Road, 
and Moss-side, named after the farm 
there. In consequence of the steady in- 
crease in the population, caused by this 
development, the village was now 
assuming the proportions of a town, and 
it was felt by the inhabitants that the 
time had come when the various dis- 
tricts should be under one name. 

A public meeting was called for this 
purpose, and, according to the late Mi- 
Archibald Hodge and the late Provost 
Marshall, the choice narrowed down to 
two names — Cowdenbeath and White 
Threshes — and the former was the ulti- 
mate decision. Later, in 1890. when the 
question of a name arose again at the 
proposed formation of the village into 
a burgh, two names were mentioned 
this time — Cowdenbeath and Foulford 
— and again Cowdenbeath was decider 1 


Coal was being worked very exten- 
sively at this time, and no surprise wa r 
created when, in 1896. the Cowdenbeath 



History of Cowdenbeath 

Coal Company was merged into the Fife 
Coal Company. An older Coal Company 
to be taken over by the Fife Coal Com- 
pany was that of Donibristle, owned by 
the Naysmith family of Donibristle, and 
this colliery, although it provided work 
for the inhabitants of the village of 
Donibristle, also provided work for a 
large number who resided at Cowden- 
beath. During this time most of the 
miners who resided in the South side of 
Cowdenbeath — in Arthur Street, Arthur 

Place, Bridge Street and Burnside Place 
— were employed by Lochgelly Iron and 
Coal Company, who owned the Raith 
Colliery nearby. It was the need for 
housing accommodation for their work- 
men that was responsible for the Com- 
pany building the houses that formed 
Arthur Place and Arthur Street. The 
houses in Thistle Street mostly belonged 
to a gentleman named Haliey, which 
was responsible for the street being 
originally called Halley's Row. 

Photograph of veteran miners taken in 1896 at the merging of Cowdenbeath 
Coal Company with Fife Coal Company. 

Back Row— Jot- Walker. James Philip. John Hunter. Peter Dry lie. William Bi-\ ciUlnc. 

Front Row — John Cameron, James Mcnzies. James McGuirc. Walter Muirheail. John Miller. John Fnnl. 

More Prosperity 


About seventy years ago the village 
became more prosperous. Much of this 
increased prosperity was due to the 
Franco-Prussian War, which brought 
about a great demand for coal. Miners, 
in the days of the "big wages" often re- 
ferred to by veterans of the coal mines, 
had more money than they ever had, 
and not a few invested their extra 
money in house property. 

It has often been said that, when a 

new pit has been sunk, the minors' 
houses have been thrown down any old 
way near the pit. But this was not so 
at Cowdenbeath, on account of the fact 
that the village lined very important 
main roadways. Vacant spaces in High 
Street began to be filled up and extra 
houses were built in Union Street (Gar- 
diner's Land) and Halley's Row. By 
1870, Cowdenbeath had begun to be 
recognised as a centre, but it was a long 
time before the inhabitants got over the 
habit of looking upon Dunfermline as 
their shopping centre. 

Every Saturday the wives used to go 
to the Old Station (then the only one) 

History of Cowdenbeath 


and ask " a ticket for the toon," and the 
clerk knew well that " toon " meant 
Dunfermline. Shops, however, started 
to spring up, mostly owned by natives 
of the village. 

Seventy Years Ago 


An old Cowdenbeath lady, who was 
born near the site of the present Town 
House, recalls the general lay out of 
High Street, the only principal street in 
1870. Opposite her birthplace was the 
Diamond Row, so called because of the 
small diamond shaped slates on the 
roof. Foulford Street did not then 
exist, and two houses had to be knocked 
down to make the entrance when that 
street was formed. At the North end 
of High Street there was a licensed 
grocer's shop owned by Mr Robert 
Crawford, and there was nothing 
further North with the exception of Mr 
Ewan's property at Cressy Burn. Fur- 
ther down, at the present Co-operative 
Fruit Shop, was a little row of houses 
known locally as " Clapperbum." Mr 
Kinninmonth had a shop here, and next 
door to it was Mr Wilson's tailor shop. 
Not far away was the house of Mr 
Kinnell, who was for many years the 
street scavenger, whose wife, Betty, was 
a very industrious body and reared 
"braw" pigs. It was also here that John 
McArthur had the first butcher's shop. 
Nearby was the smith, Mr Lindsay, 
whose daughters had a baby linen shop 
for many years. 


Mr Lindsay was succeeded by Robert 
Cook, who in the early nineties took a 
great interest in the possibility of a 
motor car. He always maintained he 
could make a car on rubber tyres to go 
at a speed of at least twenty miles per 
hour, but his great difficulty was the 
law then existing that a man with a red 
flag had to walk in front of any 
mechanically driven vehicle. 


Miss Murray had the Foulford Arms, 
previously owned by Mr Christie, whose 

Mr A. Cavipbell 

brother had a baker shop almost next 
door. Above the shop lived a well- 
known Cowdenbeath family by the 
name of Penman. Mr Penman was a 
prominent mining man, and was em- 
ployed in sinking local pits. He spent 
his last days in the Station Hotel. Pitten- 
weem. Further South stood the Com- 
mercial Hotel, owned in these days by 
Mr Sneddon, who sold the hotel to Mr 
Alexander Campbell, senior. In Union 
Street the principal parties were Mr 
James Paul, the father of Councillor 
John Paul, who came from Kelty; fur- 
ther down was a small dairy owned by 
relatives of Mr Gardiner, who built 
Gardiner's Hall; further down there was 
the grocer's shop of Mr John Car- 
michael. who used to know his custo- 
mers as "the wife wi'.the white shawl" 
or "the wife wi' the red hat"' and such 
titles were entered in his business book. 
Not far away was a house belonging to 
the Davidson family, who later removed 
to Union Street, when the different 
families occupied all of Davidson's 

' Beyond the railway bridge were 
several small buildings owned by Mr 
Shand, and on that site was built the 
present Gothenburg Public House. 
These small buildings were used for 
housing stores during the building of 
the Cowdenbeath to Perth railway. 


History of Cowdenbeath 

Next door was the building for many 
years' associated with the name of Mr 
Peter Mcintosh, one of Cowdenbeath's 
early tailors, while nearby was the pro- 
perty of Mr Glass, a painter. John was 
the son-in-law of the late Mr James 
Kirk, contractor, and while he never 
entered public life he was one of the 
town's strongest critics on social affairs. 
In this vicinity was the photographer's 
studio belonging to Mr Burt. This 
building served a double purpose at one 
time, as it was here that the members 
of the Baptist Church met during the 
time their church in Chapel Street was 
beine erected. Mr Gardener from Dun- 
fermline ? ic bad a studio here, but the 
best known was Mr Andrew Roxburgh, 
who was another very severe critic of 
the actions of the Town Council about 
the beginning of the present century. 

The Pollock family settled down on 
the North side of the level crossing. 
The most outstanding member of the 
family was the mother, who for many 
years carried on business in second-hand 
furniture. She had several sons who 
carried on business — one as a barber, 
another a painter, and one was a 
builder, while a daughter (Mrs Greig) 
was widely known as the proprietrix 
of a temperance hotel and caterer at 
nearly all the local "balls" and public 
functions. Then there was the collierv 
level crossing, with green fields beyond. 
Then there was nothing until the col- 
liery offices were reached, and then 
came Gardiner's property and Gardin- 
er's Hall, of which more later. Meikle's 
licensed grocer's shop came next. Here 
Mr James Fortune (later Bailie Fortune) 
served his apprenticeship before he took 
over the shop in the North End of the 
town. Meikle's shoo was later taken 
over by Archibald Hodge, who was an 
underground manager in No. 3 Pit. The 
original Cowdenbeath Inn adjoined 
these premises, but had been converted 
into dwelling-houses, which were after- 
wards taken over by Mr George Bicker- 
ton and converted into a tailor's and 
draper's shop. Cowdenbeath Coal Com- 
pany's works, shops and stables adjoined 
and then came Cowdenbeath Station. 

On the other side of High Street was 
the Cowdenbeath Inn and the old toll- 
house. This was one of the latest in 
the country to stop collecting tolls. 
Mr McArthur, the butcher, used to re- 
late that it used to cost him eightpence 

to get a cart load of " draff " for his 
cows from Auchtertool or the Grange 
Distillery, as he had to pass this toll- 
house and also the tollhouse at Beverkae 
on the road, both going and coming. 

Mrs Wilson, of Foulford Road, who 
died many years ago, used to relate that 
relatives of hers used to be in charge of 
the Cowdenbeath Tollhouse, and that a 
certain young farmer with a good horse 
used to jump over the gate. This toll- 
house became the barber's shop of a 
local personality, Jimmy Murray. 

The first property at the South end of 
High Street was Thomson's buildings, 
which accommodated the first Post 
Office, with Mr A. Thomson as post- 


Previous to this, the letters for Cow- 
denbeath were delivered from Loch- 
gelly Post Office by a postman named 
John Malcolm,. who used to wait until a 
certain time before he collected letters 
from the village to take back with him 
to Lochgelly. His daily round was a 
long one, extending all the way from 
Luchgelly. and included all Cowden- 
beath and Lumphinnans and the sur- 
rounding farm houses. 


As the village grew there was a strong 
demand for a post office at Cowden- 
beath, and the reply to the demand was 
that this could not be granted until a 
certain amount of mail was despatched 
from Cowdenbeath. The amount of 
business required to get the post office 
established was stated in the official 
correspondence. Then a subterfuge 
was resorted to to satisfy the Post Office 
authorities during a test week. The 
amount of business went up by a very 
large extent within the next few weeks, 
and the Post Office authorities were 
satisfied that a post office was justified, 
and Archie Thomson was appointed 
Postmaster. If the Post Office authori- 
ties of that time had placed a censorship 
on the letters sent out from Cowden- 
beath they would have received a shock, 
as many of the envelopes contained only 
pieces of used blotting paper and some 
of the parcels contained nothing more 
than firewood. Many Cowdenbeath 
people during the test 'weeks suddenly 

History of Cowdenbeath 


remembered receiving letters to which 
they had not replied, and many were in 

the following lines : — " Dear , 

Just a few lines to let you know we are 
trying our best to get a Post Office at 
Cowdenbeath." After all, the outlay 
was worth the extra stamps, and Cow- 
denbeath got a Post Office sooner than 
they otherwise would have done: Mr 
Thomson's father was a shopkeeper 
who, after a short time at the Australian 
Gold Mines, returned and became the 
country postman, his round being the 
delivery of letters to the various farms. 
Eight houses of the Oakley Raws in 
this vicinity were later demolished to 
make way for the new Co-operative 
Store building erected in 1891. One of 
the four small houses near Paul Place 
was occupied by the parents of Mr 
Andrew Wilson, who subsequently 
became Provost of the Burgh. The;*e 
were two small houses on the South side 
of the level crossing called the " High 
Blocks " although they were single 
storey in height. The Masonic Arms of 
to-day was The Vaults public-housa, 
owned by John Nicol. Further on to 
the North resided the well-known Rbllo 
family, a daughter of which family 
married James Laing, who became 
second Provost of the town. Then came 
the Diamond Row already mentioned, 
where the Blarney family resided. One 
of the sons, Thomas, became one of the 
most prominent social workers in the 
County of Fife and was Provost of the 


It will be noticed in this description 
of High Street seventy years ago that 
there were no banks and no chemists' 
or watchmakers' shops. The first 
chemist's shop was opened as a branch 
shop by Mr Dow of Kinross, and the 
first manager was Mr Hetherington, one 
of whose sons is Sir Hector Hethering- 
ton. Principal of Glasgow University, 
and who was born in a house in Broad 

There were two doctors in the town. 
Dr Mungall and Dr Nelson, and patients 
had to go to Lochgelly for medicine. 
Simple remedies, such as castor oil, 
Epsom salts, etc.. could be obtained from 
the numerous " wee shops " in the town. 

The doctors, too, always had supplies 
of these simple remedies and other 

medicines, which they gave to the 
miners and their families. 


After 1870 the population, which was 
then 1,500, continued to increase rapidly, 
and actually doubled in the next twenty 
years. During this period wages of 
miners fell to about an average of 3/- 
per day, but gradually improved until 
they reached the much discussed basic 
rate of 4/- in 1888. 


There was always plenty of work and 
unemployment was unknown. Gradu- 
ally, the town took a form and shape 
not so much by the making of new 
streets as the filling up of the gaps in 
the existing streets. A few houses 
appeared on either side of Foulford 
Road near the quarry. There is a story 
to the effect that a father and sons 
started to build a house there on a Mon- 
day morning and had it practically 
ready for occupation by the end of the 
week. Stones for the house were taken 
from Foulford Quarry. Building was 
very cheap, but sites in High Street 
became more valuable as the demand 
for business premises increased. 


Cowdenbeath Co-operative Society 
were amongst the first to foresee the 
advantage of erecting modern business 
premises. Dunfermline Co-operative 
Society had a branch at Cowdenbeath, 
but a few co-operative enthusiasts 
thought that the time had come to have 
an independent store in Cowdenbeath, 
and negotiations were entered into with 
Dunfermline Co-operative Society to 
take over their branch, and in 1875 
Cowdenbeath Co-operative Society was 
established in that property now belong- 
ing to the firm of Peter Brand, Limited. 
The first President was one of a well- 
known Cowdenbeath family, Mr 
William Davidson, and Mr Alexander 
Birrell was the first salesman. In 1878 
Mr William Paxton was appointed head 
grocery salesman. He was a personality 
in the town, and much of the success 
of the Society at that time was due to 
his untiring service. The Society pros- 
pered, and at the end of 1890 it was 


History of Cowdenbeath 

considered that larger premises were 
necessary to cope with increased 
business and, accordingly, new buildings 
were erected on the other side of the 
street in 1892. The opening ceremony 

two employees received a gold watch 
from the firm on completing 50 years' 

Previous to this. Mr George Bickerton 
had opened a draper s shop in the town 

Mr Davidson 

Mr Cowan . 

was performed by Provost Henry Mun- 

Since that time, however, the Co-op- 
erative Society gradually prospered, and 
to-day it is one of the largest Co-oper- 
ative Societies in the country. 


In 1873 the late Mr John Forrest 
opened a small tailor's shop at the North 
end of the town on the site of a wood 
store presently owned by Mr J. B. 
Armstrong. Later he removed to the 
present premises in High Street, where 
business is still carried on by members 
of his family. Old John was a person- 
ality in the town, and he was the proud 
possessor of the first tricycle in the 
district. It is a remarkable fact that 
two employees each served fifty years 
with the firm. One was David Young. 
Davie was a personality in the town, 
and he had a very pleasant disposition 
and was a great favourite. Many are 
the stories related about Davie Young. 
The other employee was Mr John 
Cowan, who is still alive. Each of these 

on the site of the original Old Inn, and 
further down Mr Gardiner carried on a 
draper's business, which was augmented 

David Young 

History of Cowdenbeath 



Mr Simpson 

by his country trade. In 1892 Messrs 
William Low & Co. opened their branch 
shop in the town in a shop later taken 
over by the Cowdenbeath Co-operative 
Society, and the first manager was Mr 
James Stormonth, who took a great 
interest in the social life of the town as 
a member of the Golf Club and the 
Reading Room at the Level Crossing. 
This was followed by the ] opening of 
a branch of Dick's Co-operative Society. 
Limited, in Gardiner's property across 
the street. The number of shops rapidly 
increased. Mr Barclay opened a shop 
in High Street, which was later taken 
over by Mr D. O. Duff from Dunferm- 
line. Before this, Mr J. A. R. Finlay. a 
native of Kinross, had opened a tailors- 
shop next door. Mr Finlay also took .' 
great interest in public affairs. He was 
a very keen sportsman — golf in the 
summer and curling in the winter. By 
this time, Mr Archibald Gieig had 
opened an ironmonger's shop near the 
level crossing, while one of the early 
grocer's shops was a branch of 
Alexander's from Kirkintilloch. Long 
before the close of the Nineteenth cen- 
tury there were shops of every kind in 
the town and the trek to " the toon " 
for messages became a thing of the past. 
Mr T. Yule had also opened a chemist's 
shop, and Mr J. Moodie Brown had 
established a watchmaker's business in 
High Street. The town had always a 
good service of newsagents from the 
days of " Hairry " Younger in School 
Street and Mr James Westwater in 
Broad Street. 

One of the early grocer's shops in the 
early 'nineties was that owned by the 
Beveridge Brothers, known locally as 

" The Busy Bees." They were Alex- 
ander, Tom and Walter, men who did 
a great service in the musical and 
religious life of the town. By the end 
of the century, vacant sites in the High 
Street were being bought up at high 
prices and, in many instances, private 
dwellings were taken down and shops 
took their place. Not a little of the de- 
mand for shop accommodation was 
caused by the revelation in 1896 that 
there was a deficit of £6453 in the Co-op- 
erative Society, and it was not until June 
1898 that the confidence of the members 
was restored, but by this time the 
private shop owners had had an oppor- 
tunity of establishing themselves. 

Until 1890 the social services had 
been looked after by the Fife County 
Council through Beath Parochial Board 
and the Heritors of Beath, but the rapid 
increase of the population demanded a 
much better state of affairs than 


One winter night. Augustine Birreli. 
then Member for West Fife, had 
occasion to come to his constituency 
with his legal agent. He came in a 
cab. and in High Street lie asked his 
agent what place they wore in. On 
being told it was Cowdenbeath, lie 
remarked that if he stayed in a place 
like that he would get drunk every 
night. If Cowdenbeath appeared so bad 
to him through the windows of a cab. 
what about the position of the inhabit- 
ants who had to feel their way through 
muddy streets in the dark. The side- 
walks were only marked off from the 
street by the kerb and channel, and 
were even in a worse condition than the 
main roads. 


There were two seasons in the year, 
one when there was mud and the other 
when there was " stoor." It was not a 
rare thing to see a foot passenger leave 
behind him or her a shoe on 'the side- 
walk and had to hop back to retrieve 
it or wait until some kindly disposed 
person retrieved it. 

Shops and houses, churches and halls, 
were lit by paraffin lamps, and moon- 
light came as a welcome blessing, for at 
other times the primitive lighting only 



History of Cowdenbeath 

made the darkness visible. It was a 
stay-at-home village to a very large 
extent, for there was no train from 
Dunfermline after nine o'clock. 


The inhabitants had to cater for their 
own amusement for a long time after 
the formation of the Burgh. In the 
'seventies and 'eighties Gardiner's Hall 
proved an attraction for a few. The 
hall, situated behind the present shop 
occupied by Harrison, Tailors, was a 
very small building erected by Mr 
Gardiner, a draper, but it had to be large 
enough for the annual " balls," and not 
only did the small building accommo- 
date the dancers, but provided room for 
the fiddler and even a small place set 
aside for refreshments. Then on Satur- 
day nights the hall was used for the 
weekly "Penny Readings," when local 
singers and concert parties from Dun- 
fermline supplied the programme. The 
price of admission to the Penny 
Readings was sixpence. There were 
several men who took turns to act as 
chairman, including the Rev. Mr Hogg, 
his successor, the Rev. A. C. McPhail 
of Beath Church, the Rev. Mr Johnman 
and the Rev. Mr Anderson of the Free 
Church, the first church in the town 
situated in Factory Road. On one 
occasion a local comedian was singing 
a song about Noah when the chairman, 
a minister, intervened, saying that he 
respected Noah too much to allow him 
to be the subject of a comic song at a 
concert over which he presided. Among 
those who took part in. the Readings 
were different members of the Davidson 
family, Mr George Terris, Miss Paul and 
Mr John Beattie. Later, Mr John 
Brunton built Brunton's Hall, and the 
town had visits from travelling concert 
and theatrical companies. Among these 
were Maggie Morton's Concert Com- 
pany and Rushbury's Company, ^ with 
the evergreen '* Alone in London." 

Periodically a " Geggy " or portable 
theatre came to the North End of the 
Town and had a run of several months. 
Among these were Pierce and Bolton, 
J. Bell, and lastly, J. Fyffe, whose son, 
Will, often figured as an actor, but 
always in the laughable farce which 
concluded each night's entertainment. 
The prices of admission were threepence 
and sixpence. 

Will Fyffe, the well-known character 
comedian, often pays a visit to the town 
to renew the friendships he made in his 
boyhood days. Among those friends 
stand out Mr and Mrs Alexander Camp- 
bell of the Commercial Hotel. 

Bailie Duncan. 


The last portable theatre at the North 
End was a cinema belonging to Mr John 
Slora, whose sons now own the Arcade 
Cinema. In the days long before the 
" Talkies," Mr Slora had his own stage 
effects, such as the galloping of horses, 
a strong wind, or thunder, which were 
supplied from the side very dramatic- 
ally by Mr Slora, who later rose to the 
position of Bailie of the town. Mr Slora 
was the gentleman who brought the 
cinema to stay at Cowdenbeath. In 
1892 the Co-operative Hall was built, 
and soon after that the Arcade Hall was 
erected. Yearly concerts were organ- 
ised by Mr Andrew Lindsay, headmaster 
Cowdenbeath School, the Choral Union, 
Cowdenbeath Minstrels and the Reading 
Room. . . , 

In the late 'eighties the North British 
Railway Company commenced to lay 
down the Perth Railway and Cowden- 
beath had a large increase of workmen 
of the navvy type, and this introduced 
the "model" lodging-houses into the 
town and the " navvy " remained where 

\.f • 

History of Cowdenbeath 


there was plenty of work for them in 
the development of the town. The rail- 
way was completed .in 1889, and the 
memorial stone in the bridge over High 
Street was laid with Masonic honours 
in April of that year by Mr Archibald 
Hodge. That stone is to be seen to-day, 
and though it is in a prominent place in 
the bridge, very few know of its exist- 
ence. A few years later the branch 
railway from Cowdenbeath to Kirkcaldy 
was made. It took several years to 
complete, and it provided work for the 
navvies who had made Cowdenbeath 
their headquarters. 


By this time, however, Cowdenbeath 
had been formed into a Burgh. In the 
Autumn of 1890 Beath Parochial Board, 
who looked after such things as water 
and a few minor services in the town, 
had been perturbed about the lack of 
social services in the village, which had 
now a population of over three 
thousand. They met in the house of Mr 
John McArthur, butcher. They met in 
his best room, and not only did John 
give them the room, but generally at the 
close of each meeting he supplied the 
refreshments that gave the meetings a 
social atmosphere. Among those who 
met there were Mr Mungall, Mr Barclay. 
Mr Fortune, Mr Paul. Mr Laing and Mr 
Innes. John himself did not take part 
in these meetings as he knew his own 
weakness, that of being a " contar " 
man, and he might have interrupted the 
business too often. However, his con- 
trariness was merely superficial, for he 
was known to have a very kindly and 
generous nature though always looked 
upon by those who knew him to be 
very strict in discipline and an upholder 
of respect to the older generation and 
those in authority. 

The members of the Board resolved 
that the time had come to form Cowden- 
beath into a Burgh. John immediately 
opposed the proposal. Of course, no one 
was surprised at his opposition, for 
which he later gave reasons, but when 
the petition to be presented to the 
Sheriff asking for the change over to a 
town council was posted in the colliery 
office window, John's name was first on 
the list of petitioners. He was chaffed 
about his change of front, but his com- 

panions knew that 
coaxed him over. 


Mr Mungall had 

John McArthur. 

John had no wish for public life, and 
though he allowed his name to go 
forward as a candidate at the first 
election ho took every opportunity to 
advise the electors to vote for better 
men than he was. It was not surpris- 
ing, therefore, that he was not returned 
as successful. Neither was the non- 
return of Mr Archibald Hodge a sur- 
prise. The latter made very few public 
speeches, but one is handed down as h 
typical example of the man. It was an 
election address and was as follows: — 
" Well, if ye pit me in I'll be pleased, 
but if ye dinna want me and dinna pit 
me in I'll be better pleased." 


There was little difficulty in getting 
the Town Council formed. The petition 
was first heard by the Sheriff at Cupar 
and then at Cowdenbeath (which name 
had been chosen in preference to Foul- 

History oj Cowdenbeath 

ford), and was proved to be a " populous 
place with more than seven hundred 
inhabitants." Then in Brunton's Hall 
on 24th November, 1890, in the presence 
of Sheriff Gillespie it was agreed to 
form the Town Council with nine mem- 
bers. Michael Reilly testified that he 
had delivered the bills calling the meet- 
ing, and copies of the "Dunfermline 
Press" and "Dunfermline Journal" 

with the advertisements calling the 
meeting were produced. The fust 
election took place in Brunton's Hall 
and there were twenty-two candidates, 
and the successful ones were: — Henry 
Mungall, 244; James Laing, 204; Andrew 
Wilson, 177; Robert Ferguson. 171; 
James Innes, 158; Charles Barclay. 143; 
David Anderson, 139; James Fortune. 
136; and John Paul, 129. 

First Town ComtciL 

George Terris. 


The Council met for the first time on 
15th January 1891, and after they 
appointed Mr Mungall as Provost. 
Messrs James Laing and James Fortune 
as Bailies. Mr George Terris was 
appointed Clerk and the meeting was 


Mr Mungall continued to be Provost 
of the Burgh until 1902. Mr Mungall 
was followed by the following gentle- 
men as Provosts: — 

Mr James Laing 1902-1905. 

Mr Andrew Wilson 1905-1908. 

Mr Charles Barclay 1908-1911. 

Mr Robert Marshall 1911-1914, 

Mr David Keir ... 1914-1917. 

Mr George Penman 1917-1920. 

Mr James Russell 1920-1927. 

Mr Thomas Blarney 1927-1930. 

Mr John King 1930-1933. 

Mr D. E. Walker 1933-1936.. 

Dr J. B. Primmer... 1936-1939. 

Mr John Young 1939- 

History of Cowdenbeath 



In the early years of his membership 
of the Council, a motion was submitted 
by Mr David Keir and carried, to the 
effect that municipal honours should go 
round, and it will be seen that, after 
Mr Mungall, no Provost, with the ex- 
ception of Mr James Russell — who held 
office for seven years — occupied the 
chair for more than three years. 


Provost Marshall. 

The Provosts were drawn from all 
classes of the community. Mr Henry 
Mungall was chairman of the Cowden- 
beath Coal Company and afterwards of 
the Fife Coal Company, and was largely 
responsible for the initial development 
of the coalfield in the West of Fife. Mr 
James Laing was originally a colliery 
surface worker and subsequently con- 
ducted a grocer's business in High 
Street. Mr Andrew Wilson was a suc- 
cessful builder and contractor, and was 
responsible for the erection of a very 
large number of buildings in the Burgh 
and neighbourhood. Mr Charles Barclay 
carried on a successful joiner's business 
in the Burgh. Mr John Marshall was 
originally a railway signalman and 
afterwards became Secretary of Cow- 
denbeath Co-operative Society. .Mr 

David Keir for many years conducted a 
successful boot and shoe business in the 
Burgh. Mr George Penman was origin- 
ally a miner and subsequently became 
the proprietor of the Masonic Arms 
public-house, where he conducted a 
large business for many years. Mr 
James Russell was a miner and took a 
great interest in everything concerned 
with the welfare of the mining com- 
munity. He was a lifelong abstainer 
and took an active and keen interest in 
temperance work throughout his life. Mi- 
Thomas Blamev was also a miner. For 

Provost Keir. 

some time he was chairman of the Fife, 
Clackmannan and Kinross Miners' 
Union, and from his early years has 
taken a very active interest in industrial 
and social matters. He has been Con- 
vener of the Public Health Committee 
of Fife County Council since the passing 
of the Local Government (Scotland) 
Act 1929. Mr John King was a eheck- 
weighman and was for many years 
chairman of the Board of Management 
of Cowdenbeath Co-operative Society, 
and did much for the success of that 
Society. Mr David E. Walker is a 
fruiterer and confectioner, and has con- 
ducted a successful business in the 
Burgh for many years. Dr John B. 
Primmer conducted a large medical 
practice in the Burgh since 1902, and 
retired from active practice in 1939. Dr 



History of Cowdenbeath 

Provost King. 

Primmer is a son of the Rev. Jacob" 
Primmer of Townhill, whose Con- 
venticles were so well known through- 
out the country during the end of last 
century. Provost Young was originally 
connected with the farming industry, 
but since he came to Cowdenbeath many 
years ago has been associated in a num- 
ber of business enterprises in the Burgh. 
The first meeting of the Town Council 
v/as held in Thomson's Hall, which was 
on the site of the present Co-operative 
Society's premises in High Street. 


The first business was the discussion 
about assessments to pay for the cost of 
the election and other estimated expen- 
diture for the current half-year. The 
assessment agreed upon was 3d in the £. 
as this was expected to bring the sum of 

Mr Terris was also appointed Col- 
lector with a commission of 3fc%, and 
Mr Fortune was appointed Honorary 
Treasurer. At a later meeting the salary 
of the Town Clerk with his many other 
duties was fixed at £15 per year. 


The Council must have been finan- 
cially minded, for they right away en- 
quired about a Police Court and what 
cases could be tried there. First they 
had to get a Fiscal, and they got the 
services of that very handy man, the 
school janitor, Campbell Halkett, who 
took on this work along with his many 
other duties. Later, the Council got Mr 
Halkett to take on the position of Sani- 
tary Inspector as well. For this job he 

Provost Russell. 

was given £2 per year, with a special 
financial inducement to get prosecutions 
in connection with the Sanitary Laws. 
The fines for the month of April 1891 
amounted to £4:5/-. 

The Commissioners appointed a scav- 
enger, but discovering that they could 
not hire a horse and cart for the whole 
week they hired them for two days in 
each week. 

They ^were a very observant body. 
For instance, they reported a Police 
Officer — very likely the only one — to the 
Chief Constable for neglect" of duty, and 
graciously recommended, when the 
Chief Constable had found him guilty, 
that nothing further be done. Then 
they had to call upon their Sanitary In- 
spector to tell him that they expected 
periodical reports for the sum they were 
paying him. They then agreed to tell 
proprietors to remove the "filth" from 
the front of their houses and told house- 
holders that they must not throw 
"filthy" water on the street. 

The newly formed Town Council were 
not long in being aware of the tremen- 
dous task they had taken in hand to put 
the village into " a decent state of 
repair " to bring it up to the standard 
one naturally expects from a burgh. 
They were faced with the very poor 
housing conditions and the almost lack 
of social services. Being a purely 
mining village, the houses were to a 
very large extent built in *' miners' 
raws," and a very large number of the 
inhabitants of to-day need not be re- 
minded of the very poor facilities for 
comfort they provided. In most 
instances they were of the " but and 
ben " order, with one door- In many 
instances, too, they had stone floors 


History of Cowdenbeath 


which, in the present days, makes one 
almost shudder at the thought of it. 
The only outside sanitary convenience 
was a dry " closet," which served for 
several families. There was no coal 
house, and the coal had to be placed 
below one of the kitchen beds, and room 
had to be left for the small keg of gun 
powder — the only explosive used in con- 
nection with the miners work, and 
which he had to purchase from his 
scanty earnings. Water had to be drawn 
from the street well and stored in two 
pails in a recess in the wall between the 
outside and inside doors— a very con- 
venient place for the cats and dogs to 
satiate their thirst. There was very 
little incentive for cleanliness. A bath- 
room was unthought of, and in below 
a bed reposed the family wash tub, 
which was brought out daily after " the 
men " had their dinner, and there, in the 
middle of the kitchen floor, the miners 
washed themselves to their own discom- 
fort and that of the whole household. 
The mess that was the result of the daily 
wash had to be cleaned up, and then 
followed the laying out to dry in front 
of the kitchen fire of the miners' wet 
clothes, so that they would be in a con- 
dition to wear for the next day's work 
One can very well understand the lack 
of comforts under these conditions if 
there were more than one miner in the 
house, and especially if they were on 
different shifts. The children of the 
miners were brought up under these 
conditions, and one cannot be surprised 
to hear that many of the miners sought 
the comfort of the local public-house 
when their scanty pays afforded this 
way of forgetting their troubles. On the 
other side of the domestic affairs, one 
must have had great sympathy with the 
miners' wives, especially when one 
takes into consideration that miners' 
families generally averaged five, and 
there were very often ten and over. 
Conditions were bad under normal cir- 
cumstances, which meant that in a 
miner's but and ben there had to be four 
beds, and the family were fortunate if 
no bed in the house had to accommodate 
more than two. One can well imagine 
what happened when sickness invaded 
the home or, worse still, when a fatal 
accident brought grief and mourning 
into the house. The present generation 
must feel horrified to be told on very 
many occasions the dead body of a 

miner lying in his coffin had to be 
removed from a bed at night to allow 
the inmates the use of the bed. While 
this state of affairs not only existed at 
Cowdenbeath but in every mining dis- 
trict in Fife, it gives an indication of 
what Cowdenbeath Town Council had 
to face. 

One regrettable feature was that it 
was understood that this was the con- 
ditions set down for the miners, and 
anything more comfortable would be 
looked upon as revolutionary and un- 
heard of. This idea seemed to possess 
the members of the Town Council in 
these days, and several years after- 
wards, when the first Labour Coun- 
cillor was returned to the Council by 
co-option, he made a motion that the 
Coal Company be forced to install a 
water closet to each four tenants in their 
property in High Street. The Provost, 
who was chairman of the Company, got 
very annoyed over the proposal. He 
stated that that would ruin the CoaL 
Company and, after all, it would be such 
a waste of good water. His expression 
of that opinion no doubt went a long 
way towards the result of the vote, 
which was that two voted in favour of 
the motion. When that Councillor 
retired at the end of the next year he 
was defeated and graced the bottom of 
the poll. The ca' canny policy was 
having its effect in these days- 

By this time, however, the private 
builder was making his presence felt in 
the town, and many *' taen " houses had 
water closets introduced. Baths, how- 
ever, were only confined to a few lucky 
families, and it was not until the adop- 
tion of the Town Council Housing 
Schemes that a bath was not considered 
a luxury. 

Another problem that faced them was 
the sewage question. When they took 
office there were no sewage works at all. 
The drains emptied themselves into the 
stream that runs through the centre of 
the town and eventually enters Loch 

This state of affaire could not last 
forever, for they were continually 
reminded by Board of Health and 
other interested parties, especially the 
ground proprietors on the banks of the 
stream. They put off the evil day for 
many years, until at last they had no 
alternative but take the matter in hand. 
Sewage works had to be put down and, 


History of Cotodenbeath 


on the assurance of a well-known 
mining man (a member of the Town 
Council), that the place they had 
selected was a safe site, the plant was 
laid down. Changes in the officials of 
the Coal Company were effected a short 
time afterwards, and the verbal assur- 
ances that the coal would never be 
wrought below that site proved worth- 
less The plant began to break up from 
the effect of underground workings 
there, and soon the Town Council were 
left with the relics of their costly plant. 
This was a great blow to the com- 
munity, as while the sewage works were 
a complete wreck, the Council were still 
paying interest on borrowed capital and 
repaying instalments on the loan of the 
principal amount, and did so until 
recently, and the sewage again had to 
be diverted in its crude state to Loch- 
gelly Loch. They simply could not face 
the additional expenditure for new 
sewage works, and, despite the constant 
reminders and claims for damages, they 
again put off the evil day until several 
years ago, when the present new plant 
was laid down. This time they made no 
mistake about the safety of the site, 
but bought out the coal underneath. 
They then very wisely took other pre- 
cautions, including the laying down of 
a plant that could deal with double the 
sewage that passes through it, and thus 
provided for any large increase in the 
population. As the plant was to last 
for many years, the Town Council were 
determined to have the very latest, and 
it was only after visiting the very latest 
types that they decided to adopt the most 
recent— that of the activated sludge 
principle which had then been intro- 
duced in Scotland and was only in oper- 
ation at one place and had been proved 
to be a great success. Work was com- 
menced as soon as possible, and the 
plant was opened in October 1932. 


A few years after the formation of the 
Town Council a new problem arose, 
namely, the question of a domestic 
water supply, which was brought about 
by the rapid increase of the population. 

Long before the burgh was formed, 
the only water supply was from springs. 
One such spring was at the North End 
of the High Street, and it was from this 
spring that the inhabitants over a large 

area had to take their water, and this 
provided domestic duties for the 
younger members of the families. 
Beath Parochial Board tackled the 
question of a water supply by pipes 
throughout the main streets from a 
source in the present Public Park, and a 
water house was erected — a building 
that is now used as a tool house. There 
was an opening ceremony, at which a 
few men still alive were present, when, 
they remember, it was stated that they 
had got a supply sufficient for their 
needs Alas! that did not even prove 
sufficient for the needs of the village 
during the life-time of the Parochial 
Board, and in 1887 the present Roscobie 
site was acquired and a reservoir laid 
out there, when it was again thought 
the village was provided for for all 
When the Town Council took office in 
1890 there was no need to doubt that 
statement, and surplus water was sup- 
plied to the village of Hill of Beath. 
However, so rapidly did the population 
increase that, before the end of the 
century, it was found necessary to 
enlarge the reservoir at Roscobie. This 
was completed in 1901, and again the 
forecast was made that Cowdenbeath 
had enough water for all time. 

Again that proved to be wrong, for 
not many years had elapsed when the 
water scarcity arose again, and the sup- 
ply from Roscobie had to be augmented 
by water taken from Dalbeath Pit. 
Though this supply was helpful, the 
water was very hard and unsuitable for 
washing purposes, and the housewives 
complained bitterly. At one period of 
acute scarcity it is recorded that Dr 
Craig, who was then Medical Officer of 
Health, had actually used a bottle of 
lemonade one morning to wash his face. 
The solution of the problem came in 
sight when, in 1911, the Town Council 
purchased from Dunfermline District 
Committee of Fife County Council their 
limited right to take water from Loch 
Glow. The Town Council then sot 
negotiations on foot for the complete 
control by them of the water rights in 
the Loch, but these negotiations were 
orotracted over several years. In 1918 
the Town Council promoted a Pro- 
visional Order to secure complete con- 
trol of the water in the Loch. This was 
strongly opposed by landowners in the 
vicinity of the Loch and by mill owners. 

History of Cowdenbeath 


on the banks of the River Leven. The 
Town Council, under the able guidance 
of Mr R. T. Milne, Town Clerk, put up a 
very strong case and were in every way 
successful in carrying through the 
Order. Since that time there has been 
an abundant supply of water, and there 
is sufficient reserve in the Loch to meet 
with all demands likely to arise for 
many years to come. 

Mr Milne. 

There were other questions to be 
tackled that meant large outlays and 
borrowing of large sums. There was 
the lighting of the town. Previous to 
the formation of the Burgh the High 
Street was lit by a few paraffin lamps, 
which were provided, equipped and 
maintained by voluntary means, princi- 
pal being the financial returns from the 
Penny Readings. This fund was admin- 
istered by a small committee of whom 
Mr Hodge was secretary, treasurer and 

Then Cowdenbeath Gas Company was 
formed, of which more is told later in 
this history of the Burgh, and Cowden- 
beath Town Council were quite pleased 
to allow that body to light their main 
streets. When it is remembered that the 
population of the Burgh when it was 
formed was only approximately 3000, 
and when the principal election cry was 
" Economy," one is not surprised to 

know that several schemes were delayed 
as long as possible. These included the 
building of a slaughterhouse, the erec- 
tion of new Council Chambers, street 
making, general road repair and pave- 
ment laying. The last-mentioned came 
as a great boon, and there is no doubt 
that this greatly enhanced the popu- 
larity of Cowdenbeath as a centre, and 
the shopkeepers reaped the benefit. By 
this time the ratepayers had fully real- 
ised that the early years following the 
formation of a Burgh were years of 
great outlay, but here at Cowdenbeath 
there was the redeeming feature that 
the town was growing by leaps and 
bounds and the increased rental kept 
taxation within reasonable bounds. 
Encouraged by this, the Town Council 
commenced to make up leaway in the 
.matters that were behind in the way of 
social services. 

Cowdenbeath jo Years Ago 


A great deal of progress was made in 
the Nineties, during which time Bailie 
Laing at a public meeting referred to 
the town as the Chicago of Fife, so 
rapidly was it extending. Streets must 
have great lv improved, too, for he stated 
that the Hiqh Street was beginning to 
resemble Princes Street, Edinburgh. 
This caused a great laugh in the hall 
Still in time. High Street was put right 
with granolithic pavement. More 
visitors began to arrive in the town from 
the country to have the pleasure of 
walking on our pavement, which was 
something of a treat. 


Two other churches came into exist- 
enco _thc Guthrie Church in High 
Street and the Cairns U.P. Church in 
Church Street. A few years later a 
Chapel of Ease was erected in Natal 
Place. This church was constituted as 
a Quod Sacra Church, and is now the 
West Parish Church. 


History of Cowdenbeath 


West Parish Church. 




With the sinking of Mossbeath Pit, 
houses began to appear in Broad Street, 
Moss-side Road, Chapel Street and Park 
Avenue, and the population rose to over 
ten thousand. The Raith Pits continued 
to send out large supplies of coal, as did 
the "evergreen" No. 7 Pit in the centre 
of the Burgh. The Gordon Pit was sunk, 
and Foulford Pit output was supple- 
mented by the sinking of No. 9 Pit. 


With the rapid rise in the population, 
and the growing popularity of Cowden- 
beath as a centre, there was a great rush 
for public-house premises. The Old Inn 
was soon joined by the Commercial 
Hotel (Mr A. Campbell), the Crown 
Hotel (Mr T. Bernard), Foulford Arms 

(Mr Mitchell), Raith Arms (Mr Goidie 
Kerr, who later became a Town Coun- 
cillor), and The Vaults, owned for a long 
time by Mr Nicol, were taken over by 
Mr George Penman, who subsequently 
became Provost of the Burgh. He 
greatly extended the premises and 
called them the Masonic Arms. At every 
Licensing Court there were continual 
heated arguments between Dunfermline 
lawyers and ministers of religion for and 
against the licences. Mr A. Shand got a 
licence for the present Gothenburg pre- 
mises, and many were refused. 


The lighting of the town was still in a 
backward state. Paraffin lamps were 
discarded for coal gas, then followed, 
carbide gas, which was sold at a pro* 
hibitive price. The first to try gas was 

History of Cowdenbeath 


Mr Alexander, a grocer in High Street, 
who fitted up a small plant in his back- 
shop, and thus lit up his own shop and 
a street lamp which he placed on the 
edge of the pavement. Matters in the 
way of lighting got worse when a small 
privately-owned gas plant at the rear of 
High Street was the scene of an explo- 
sion. The present Cowdenbeath Gas 
Company took the matter in hand, and 
they have ever since looked after the 
manufacture of gas for the town. 

The Town Council missed a grand 
chance at that time to take over that 
plant. It is stated on good authority 
that at a Council Meeting a proposal to 
buy the privately-owned gas plant was 
rejected, in the belief that the Police 
Commissioners would eventually get the 
plant for nothing. However, Cowden- 
beath Gas Company carried on, and the 
chance was lost. 

Later, Cowdenbeath Town Council 
put down an electric lighting plant of 
their own for street lighting purposes, 
and when Provost Mungall pulled down 
a switch, saying, " let there be light," 
the dismal street lighting was a thing 
of the past. 


With the twentieth century the popu- 
lation increased, and Stenhouse Street 
took shape with many other side streets. 
Foulford School and Beath R.C. Primary 
were erected. At the same time there 
also sprung up a large number of other 
churches of the Plymouth Brethren type 
known as Church of God. Church of 
Christ, Close Brethren, Open Brethren, 
etc., who occupied various halls in the 
town, and they all exist to this day. 


Just before the commencement of the 
Great War in 1914 the Town Council 
had a scheme for the building of muni- 
cipal houses which was strongly spon- 
sored by Bailie Blarney, but the War 
put an end to the project for the time 
being. In 1919, however, the Council 
commenced to tackle the housing prob- 
lem, and they have now erected 720 new 
houses and have plans in hand for the 
erection of several hundreds more. 


There is a future for Cowdenbeath, 
and that is because it has become the 
centre of the mining industry of West 

The Fife Coal Company helped con- 
siderably when they made Cowdenbeath 
their headquarters, providing employ- 
ment for several hundred additional 


The Town Council were faced with 
many other problems- The rising popu- 
lation demanded much in the way of 
improvement of social and other ser- 
vices. In 1911, when the population was 
at its highest, overcrowding had for 
some years been presenting the Council 
with a serious problem. Some idea of 
the extent of overcrowding mav be 
realised when it is stated that the Town 
Council have erected more than 720 new 
houses, it is estimated that thre«-tM» four 
hundred more are still requh/ed. and 
that the population is now 4bout 2000 
less than it was about thirty*years ago. 

Mr J. Paton, Workshops Manager. 

Winners of Summer League. 


History of Cowdenbeath 


Interior View of 

It is also an educational centre, having 
within its boundaries Beath Secondary 
School, the Fife Mining School and 
Beath R.C. High School, which last 
serves the whole of Fife. Had the town 
been able to have induced the Fife 
Miners' Union to have made Cowden- 
beath their headquarters it would cer- 
tainly have strengthened the strong 
claim of Cowdenbeath to be the hub 
of the West Fife coal trade. 


Cowdenbeath, like other towns, has 
had its critical periods. The black 
period of the Great War had just passed 
when the mining counties were upset by 
industrial dispute commencing with the 
prolonged miners' strike of 1921. Cow- 
denbeath, being the centre of the West 
Fife mining industry, was soon in the 
throes of the struggle. The beginning 
of the struggle was associated with 
regreattable scenes in the town, no 
doubt exaggerated as they were carried 
to different parts of the country, and 
then followed month of privation when 
many families lost their savings which 
of this dispute were still having their 
took them years to collect. The result 
of this dispute was still having its effect 
on the municipal life of the town when 
along came the protracted strike of 1926. 
and the inhabitants, most of whom are 
miners, had to undergo another long 
spell of endurance that considerably 
hampered the work of the Town Coun- 
cil. These unfortunate industrial dis- 
putes seriously affected the civic life of 
the town, as it did the whole of the 
coal industry of the country, but 
Cowdenbeath has passed through its 

Central Workshop 

critical period and there are bright days 
ahead. ' The time must come when the 
town will receive its rightful share of 
the heavy industries, which the coal 
industry of the district justifies, and 
which the Government have to a very 
large extent, if not altogether, neglected 
or withheld. With the abolition of 
overcrowding and the gradual reduction 
of the burden of loans, we will have a 
town which will stand as a monument 
to our legislators and our private 
citizens, who have sacrificed so much 
for its prosperity. 


Up to the end of last century the 
Council Chambers had been in Waverley 
Rooms in School Street, but in 1902 the 
present spacious premises in High Street 
were opened, 

Among the public and private bodies 
and organisations which have carried 
on social and other work in the Burgh, 
mention may be made of the follow- 
ing: — 


In parochial affairs Beath Parish 
Council has always played a prominent 
part in the history of Cowdenbeath. 
After the passing of the Poor Law Act 
the relief of the poor was entrusted to 
the Parochial Board, and in October 
1845 we find Mr John Curror of Nether- 
town was appointed the first Inspector of 
Poor for the Parish of Beath at a salary 
of £7 per annum. For that he had to dis- 
tribute relief to the poor of the Parish 
and keep a correct account of all sums 
paid and disbursed by him. He had an- 

History of Cowdenbeath 


extra £2 per year as collector of assess- 
ments. It was fortunate that there 
were no buses in these days or he would 
have been out of pocket in travelling 
expenses in connection with these 
duties. He only performed these duties 
for one year, however, as he died in 
1846, and his son, Peter Curror, was 
appointed to take up his father's work. 
At the end of another year, however, 
Mr Thomas Scott, who was Parochial 
Schoolmaster at Cantsdam, Kelty, was 
appointed to the position. Mr Scott was 
also appointed Registrar of Births, 
Marriages and Deaths. In 1857 the 
position of Inspector of Poor was given 
to Mr James Brand, a teacher in Cow- 
denbeath Colliery School. That gentle- 
man must have been held in high 
esteem in the Parish for we find that 
when he left to take up the position of 
Inspector of Poor at Abbotshall, Kirk- 
caldy, in 1865, there was a special 
reference to his good work in the 
Minutes. It refers to his efficiency as 
Inspector of Poor and to his courteous 
treatment to that class of people " who 
will be ever with us." There were three 
candidates for the vacant position. One 
was Mr James Terris, father of the late 
Town Clerk and Parish Clerk, and he 
received more votes than the other two 
candidates combined. The salary was 
now £30 per annum. With the new 
appointment there was a change not 
enjoyed by the Cowdenbeath poor, for 
they now" had to travel to Oak field. 
Kelty. to get their relief. An old 
Cowdenbeath lady, who died quite 
recently, related how she had to walk 
there and back every week for 3/6 per 
week which she received after her 
husband had been killed in a colliery 
accident at Cowdenbeath. 

Other Inspectors of Poor since then 
have been Mr George Terris, Mr James 
Terris. his son, and the present in office. 
Mr Alexander Baxter. 

As a Parish Council Beath has had :. 
hectic career. From the days of very 
meagre allowances to the poor there was 
a gradual inclination to pay much 
better rates. The standard rates laidv 
down by the supervising Authority were 
never high enough to please the mem- 
bers of the Parochial Board and the 
Parish Council, and there was always 
trouble between the Council and the 
supervising Authority. The Council 
allowances were never below the scales 

set down, and on many occasions they 
exceeded them, and there were repeat- 
edly threats to surcharge the members. 
This threat did not strike fear into the 
hearts of the members and they success- 
fully defied the supervising Authority. 
Beath Parish Council came into prom- 
inence as being one of the most liberal 
Parish Councils in Scotland in the 
treatment of the poor. The Parochial 
Board and the Parish Councils arc now 
relics of the past and their functions 
are performed by the Public Assistance 
Committee of the County Council. 



In the early days of Cowdenbeath 
there were two schools set up by the 
Colliery owners. One was that belong- 
ing to "the Lochgelly Iron & Coal Com- 
pany, and was specially erected for the 
education of the children of their work- 
men employed at Raith Colliery. That 
school was "made by the taking away of 
walls between two of the five houses in 
School Row. situated just outside the 
present Burgh boundary. In this 
building Mr Geddes looked after the 
education of the boys, and in an extra 
room erected at the rear Miss Syme. 
from Lochgelly. looked after the educa- 
tion of the" girls. Miss Syme had often 
the assistance of her sister from Lm-h- 
gelly. and though only the three R's. 
were supposed to be taught, the unpaid 
services of the younger Miss Syme were 
often used to teach the young girls sow- 
ing. The other school for the Cowden- 
beath children was situated in Broad 
Street, almost exactly opposite the 
present Broad Street School. This. too. 
consisted of two houses, a but-and-ben. 
made into one. Here the teacher was 
Mr David Dundas Brown, and no doubt 
the school was commenced by the 
Oakley Iron & Coal Company, though 
the schools were known respectively as 
the Raith School and Cowdenbeath 


The schools were not confined to the 
children of colliery workers, as children 
of other workers "and of the few shop- 
owners wore admitted to either school, 
but every Monday morning each one in 


History of Cowdenbeath 

this category had to bring along one 
shilling and twopence. Quite a number 
of the oldest persons in the town got 
their education in one of these two 


This state of affairs existed until 1876 
when the newly appointed School Board 
took over the education of the children 
and were responsible for the erection of 
the first part of the present Broad Street 
School. A year previous to the change 
over Mr Geddes had left the Raith 
School, and Mr John Craigie, a certifi- 
cated teacher, succeeded him, and came 
to the new school with his pupils on 
February 14th, 1876. The infant depart- 
men under Miss Syme came as a 
separate school and remained a separate 
school until the retirement of Miss 
Syme in 1903. At the same time, the 
children from the Cowdenbeath School 
went to the new building, but there is 
no record of what happened to' their 
teacher, Mr David Dundas Brown. On 
the day the school was opened there 
were two members of the School Board 
present, Dr Mungall, a colliery doctor, 
and his brother, Henry Mungall, after- 
wards Provost of the Burgh. The next 
day the school was examined by a school 
inspector, Mr Hugh Wilson. In Mr 
Craigie's department the assistant was 
Mr McDougal, while there were three 
pupil teachers, John Miller, James Paul 
and Christina Danks. The pupils 
appeared to number 121 and were 
taught in two rooms. John Miller was 
the son of Mr Miller, the builder, and 
James Paul was the son of the late Mr 
John Paul, plasterer. In April of the 
next year Mr Craigie received the 
appointment of Government Inspector 
of Schools, and the new headmaster was 
Mr Andrew Lindsay, who had been 
assistant to Mr Scott of the Parochial 
School at Cantsdam. Mr Lindsay re- 
tired in 1911, having completed thirty- 
four years as headmaster. The number 
of scholars when he retired was over 
1400 and the school had been twice 
enlarged. It was enlarged again after 
a disastrous fire of 1929, when nearly all 
the school was destroyed, giving the 
school mottp, " Little by little," a double 
meaning. Mr Allan was headmaster 
until 1913, when the present head- 
master, Mr Wm. M. Fortune, a pupil of 

the school, was appointed headmaster. 

When Miss Syme took over the Infant 
Department of the new school she had 
also over a hundred pupils under her 
charge. She had, as assistant, Miss 
Watters, with Miss Cooper as sewing 
mistress. A few months later Miss 
Annie Penman was appointed as an 
assistant. The first School Exhibition 
was held in 1876, and among the relics 
treasured by a Cowdenbeath old lady is 
a book won as a prize for sewing and 
cutting out a shape. Miss Syme retired 
in June, 1903, and her successor, Miss 
Jude, commenced duties, but not as a 
headmistress in charge of an infant 
school but headmistress of the infant 
department under Mr Lindsay. Other 
headmistresses who have been in the 
school are Miss Jamieson, Miss Menzies 
and the present Miss Forbes. A teacher 
with a very long record of service, now 
retired, is Miss Currall. 

Foulford School was erected to cope 
with the large increase in the school 
population, and this was followed soon 
afterwards by the R.C. Primary School. 
The passing of the Education Act, 1910. 
was responsible for the erection of Beath 
Secondary School aad, before the war, 
there was a demand for a school at 
Moss-side, but the building was delayed 
until after the end of the war. The 
erection of the R.C. High School came 

Jenny Lee 

History of Cowdenbeath 





• i 

Mr J. M. Masterton, a prominent educa- 
tionist and Secretary of the Earl 
Haig Fund. Committee. 

later, and the conversion of Moss-side 
School into a post-qualifying centre for 
girls was made a few years ago. 


Previous to the abolition of Beath 
School Board in 1919 that Board aroused 
considerable local and national interest 
by the adoption of the principle of " free 
books" in 1911. and later they com- 
mended a school for " backward ' 
children, known as a Special School, in 
1916. The schools in the area are now 
under the control of the Education Com- 
mittee of Fife County Council. During 
the School Board days a prominent 
chairman was Mr James Terns of 
Dullomuir, Blairadam, and commemor- 
ation tablets to his memory are in 
Beath Secondary School and the Public 
School at Kolty. 


The Fife Mining School, which stands 
on Broad Street and Moss-side Road, is 
a monument to the work of Principal 
Joseph Parker, D.Sc. Born of humble 
parents in the West of Scotland, he left 
the day school at 12 years of age to work 
in the mines, but later he commenced 
to study at Hamillon Academy while 
working during the day, and overcom- 
ing all obstacles he gained his colliery 

manager's certificate at the age of 26. 
He was manager at Allenton Colliery, 
and then came to Fife to be the manager 
of Cardenden Colliery. It was then he 
had his first acquaintance with the Fife 
Mining School, Cowdenbeath, which, at 
the time, only occupied two rooms in 
Broad Street School. 

Still anxious for more learning, he 
attended Dunfermline High School, 
where he gained his Higher Leaving 
Certificate, and then he took courses at 
the Heriot-Watt College and Edinburgh 
University. During this time he con- 
tinued as a teacher at the Fife Mining 
School, a student during the day and a 
teacher in the evening. At last he 
realised his great ambition when he 
became Principal of the Fife Mining 
School. Pressing for more accommoda- 
tion, he got the school transferred to 

Dr Parker 

the basement of Beath Secondary 
School. Still he was not satisfied, and 
again putting forward the claims of the 
school he was successful in having the 
present commodious school erected. 

Mine ventilation was his pet subject, 
because he fully realised the great 
danger to miners employed in mines 
wheVe different kinds of gases are 
encountered. He studied this subject 
rigorously and when he had mastered it 
he submitted a thesis to the University of 
Edinburgh and was awarded the Degree 
of Doctor of Science. This, as can be 
seen, is not a mere empty title, because 
the subject was closely allied to his 
work, but Mr Parker set little import- 
ance on the designation of Doctor. He 
looked upon as his greatest reward the 
knowledge that he had done something 


History of Cowdenbeath 

in the interest of that huge body of men 
who take their lives in their hands when 
they go to work in a coal mine, and 
whose service to the community and the 
country he keenly appreciated. 

A very large number of his pupils 
occupy prominent positions in the 
mining world to-day. 

During the Great War the strong 
appeal for the training of girls and 
young women as munition workers 
found a ready response in Principal 
Parker, and after months of sweeping 
aside the obstructions of officialdom he 
collected as much machinery as would 
enable him to make a start. With no 
thought of monetary reward he com- 
menced the training of the girls, who 
gradually were fully trained and were 
accepted in munition works all over the 

He also turned his attention to the 
formation of a company of the Mech- 
anical Transport Section of the Army 
Service Corps. He got his recruits from 
his students, and after borrowing and 
buying old cars he set to work to 
instruct the students in the driving and 
repair of motor cars. 

He was again very successful, and at 
last a complete company of trained men 
were accepted by the military author- 
ities and were sent to the headquarters 
in London. 

As a mining lecturer he was always 
in great demand. His passing in 
October 1939 was a great loss to the 


One public body which has performed 
very useful work to the community is 
Cowdenbeath Ambulance Waggon Asso- 
ciation. In the early days of coal 
mining one very regrettable feature was 
the absence of a suitable vehicle for the 
transport of the sick and injured. This 
was particularly so on the occasion of a 
miner being injured at work, when a 
cart was the only means of having him 
conveyed home, rough travelling being 
only mitigated to a very small extent 
by a layer of straw. Ihis state of affairs 
came to an end in 1903 when the Cow- 
denbeath Public House Society Limited 
presented the town with a horse-drawn 
ambulance. About this time also the 
Fife Coal Company introduced a better 

John W. Beveridge 

system for the removal of injured 
miners. The lighting of the public 
ambulance was by means of batteries, 
which were so heavy that there was 
always a danger of the vehicle getting 
out of control on the Halbeath Hill, and 
the route taken to and from Dunferm- 
line Hospital was by Dhuloch. This 
vehicle served for eighteen years. Mi- 
David Arthur was first secretary of the 
Ambulance Waggon Association formed 
on the presentation of the waggon, and 
Mr James Inncs. who followed him in 
that capacity nine years later, served for 
twelve years. The first motor ambul- 
ance waggon was presented to the Asso- 
ciation after the War. It came as a gift 
from the Ex-Service Men. each of whom 
could direct the sum of five shillings to 
any object they liked from the accumu- 
lated profits of the war canteen fund. 
A local gentleman prepared sheets for 
signature and was responsible for them 
being signed by the Ex-Service Men, 
asking that their respective five shillings 
should be given to a fund for the 
purchase of the ambulance. The forma 
presentation was made by Principal 
Joseph Parker of the Fife Mining 
School, and it was accepted by the 
present secretary. Mr John Beveridge 
This machine outlived its usefulness and 
another was purchased at the cost of 


History oi Cowdenbeath 


i , 


£546, of which cost the Miners' Welfare 
Fund contributed £250. The work of 
the ambulance waggon has greatly 
increased since the days of the horse- 
drawn vehicle. In the last year of that 
vehicle 55 cases were attended to, 4 of 
which were taken to Edinburgh Infirm- 
ary. During the last financial year 1346 
cases were attended to, and there were 
187 journeys to Edinburgh. As the work 
increased so also has the income 
increased and, while the income in 1915 
was £86 : 15 : 0. last year it was 
£862 : 9 : 3. 

The present secretary, Mr J. W. 
Beveridge, has held that post since 1921, 
and during his long term of office he has 
performed a faithful service to the town. 
The duties of the office have been 
numerous and at times very trying, but 
he has unflinchingly carried on, earning 
the appreciation and esteem of the town 
and the often silent thanks of a large 
section of the community who were 
unfortunate enough to require the use 
of the ambulance. Like his Committee, 
he has always observed a progressive 
policy which has exceeded the hopes of 
the founders. 

Two other persons deserve words of 
gratitude for their part in the work of 
the Ambulance Waggon Association: Mi- 
Archibald Hodge, treasurer for twenty 
years, and Miss Hodge, treasurer for 
nine years. Miss Hodge was persuaded 
to accept an illuminated address on her 
retiral, and Mr Hodge unwillingly 
accepted a piece of silver plate, suitably 

The Association now own their own 
garage, board room and office. 



There are two of the social services 
of the town which impress as being of .■ 
very satisfactory standard, namely, 
lighting and the water supply. In con- 
nection with the former the history of 
street lighting has been remarkable. 
Before the formation of the Burgh, and 
for the first few years after, street light- 
ing was of a primitive nature and, in 
fact, when it was introduced it was 
carried out on a voluntary basis, and the 
village had to depend on the musical 
abilities and generosity of a few persons 
to provide the lamps and keep them 
burning. It was gradually felt that 

something should be done to get some 
form of lighting of the main street, and 
a local committee was formed to see to 
it. They decided on a scheme of con- 
certs which were called Penny Readings 
and were held in the original Colliery 
School in Broad Street. The result of 
those weekly concerts was that a small 
number of lamps were obtained and 
these kept lighted, except on moonlight 

The Cowdenbeath Gas Company, 
Limited, was formed and registered on 
7th August, 1891, the objects being:— 
" To supply the town of Cowdenbeath 
with Oil Gas, or other illuminant for 
lighting or other purposes; to purchase 
the Oil Gas Works there, and plant, 
pipes, etc., belonging to William 
Alexander, merchant, Cowdenbeath, and 
to extend and develop the same, as may 
be found expedient, and generally to 
carry on the businesses of Gas Manu- 
facture and Merchants in all depart- 
ments in the said town or elsewhere." 

The Oil Gasworks purchased from 
William Alexander were situated at the 
bottom of the present Burgh Road, and 
the new Company extended the plant 
and main pipes and commenced a 
supply of Gas. 

John Boswell was the first Chairman, 
and George Terris. Clerk to the then 
Police Commissioners, was appointed 

The story of the Company during the 
first ten years was one of faith, hope 
and tragedy. 

Oil Gas was manufactured, and in 
1894 the Cowdenbeath Police Commis- 
sioners had 12 street lamps in High 
Street, which were supplied at a price 
of 10/3d per lamp per year. 

The Gas Manager received 12/- per 
week for his labour, later increased to 
15/- per week. 

It was a part-time job, as the records 
show that the Police Commissioners 
complained about his working at night 
and " on the Lord's Day," whereby he 
was considered not capable of attending 
to his work for them. 

About 1896 the Company became 
agents for incandescent gas burners, and 
their first order was for three dozen 
burners and one dozen spare mantles. 

Costs of production and difficulties 
with the plant became serious with the 
price of gas at 12/- per. 1000 cubic feet. 
About June 1898 the Company became 


History of Cowdenbeath 




v i 

interested in the manufacture of 
Acetylene Gas in preference to Oil Gas, 
and it was decided upon the advice 
given that this new gas would enable 
them to regain stability and the plant 
was installed. 

For a while it was a great success as 
a light and was referred to as the " light 
par excellence " and " the Queen of 
Lights." It was found, however, that 
the gas was costing 15/- per 1000 cubic 
feet to make, and out of twenty 
thousand feet made they lost ten 
thousand feet. 

Difficulties with the supplies of 
calcium developed, and after failure of 
the gas supply for two days the derelict 
Oil Gas Plant was again brought into 

Troubles continued, complaints about 
price and quality were common, and a 
report and plans were obtained from 
Hubert Pooley, Gas Manager, Dunferm- 
line, with the object of putting down a 
coal gas plant. This did not develop 
because of the lack of further capital. 

Suggestions were made that the Police 
Commissioners might take over the 
business in June, 1899, but no action 
was taken. 

In 1900, George Terris, Secretary of 
the Company, wrote to himself as Clerk 
to the Police Commissioners (now called 
the Town Council) offering the Council 
the whole plant and rights for £500, but 
no action was taken. 

On 20th August, 1900, an explosion 
and fire destroyed the plant, which was 
insured for £100, and the sum of £96 
was accepted in settlement. 

The Town Council were again asked 
to take over the business, and pending 
their consideration, other people who 
had greater confidence in the success of 
a gas supply in the town became 
interested, purchased the shares of the 
Company and set about to develop the 

The new Directors, headed by James 
Hutton, gas meter manufacturer, Edin- 
burgh, decided to manufacture coal gas 
and erect a complete new gasworks on 
a site at the east end of Elgin Road and 
lay new pipes throughout the town. 

They appointed Mr J. B. Scott their 
new Engineer and Manager early in 
1901, the erection of the new works was 
proceeded with and a supply of gas was 
once more made available to the town 
early in December, 1901. 

Mr Scott. 

The price of gas, the facilities offered 
by the Company in providing free ser- 
vices, the introduction of the penny slot 
meter, and cooking appliances on easy 
hire terms, afforded every householder 
the benefits of gas for lighting, cooking 
and heating. The result of this popular 
development was successful and pro- 
gress was rapid. 

In 1904 the inhabitants of Kelty made 
a request for the Cowdenbeath Gas 
Company, Limited, to extend a gas 
supply to Kelty district, but this pro- 
posal was not proceeded with, and 
ultimately Kelty interests formed a Gas 
Company and erected works of their 

In 1906 the Lumphinnans Public- 
House Society, Limited, decided to pro- 
vide street lighting in Lumphinnans 
village, as one form of their social 
betterment schemes, and the Gas Com- 
pany laid main pipes through the 

The lamps were operated by a patent 
apparatus from the Gasworks for 
several years, this being the first install- 
ation of its kind in Scotland. 

In 1910 the Company extended its 
supply to the householders in Crossgates 
and Fordell districts. 

During 1914 a high pressure supply 
pipe was extended from Crossgates to 

History of Cowdenbeath 





Just previous to the Great War 
Cowdenbeath Town Council made' i 
strong bid to acquire the Gas under- 
taking. They adopted the Gas Supply 
Act, but during the. War the Council 
were not allowed to borrow money for 
the purpose, and this Order operated for 
several years afterwards. By this time 
the price of the undertaking had risen 
to a prohibitive price. 

In passing it might not be out of place 
to record that one progressive spirit in 
the Town Council, speaking at a public 
function in the Burgh, suggested that 
the town should now extend its bound- 
aries to include Aberdour, now that the 
Gas Company had paved the way. 

Up to this time the progressive 
development of the Company had been 
rapid and had exceeded the expecta- 
tions of the Directors when they set out 
in 1900. 

During 1920-21, by arrangement with 
the Fife Coal Company, Limited, the 
Gas Company installed a Gas Supply to 
all their houses in Lumphinnans, Kirk- 
ford, Hill of Beath, and within the 
Burgh, much to the benefit of the 

Progress has been maintained during 
the intervening years, notwithstanding 
the introduction of electricity as a com- 

The Housing Schemes developed by 
the Town Council and County Council 
have been provided with a gas supply 
and, to meet the increasing demands, 
the Company's manufacturing plant has 
been extended from time to time, and 
they possess an up-to-date works cap- 
able of meeting greatly increased 

It may be of interest to state that the 
Gas Company are one of the largest 
ratepayers in the Burgh, paying a sum 
equal to approximately 10% of the 
Burgh rates. 

In 1919 Mr J. B. Scott died and was 
succeeded by his eldest son, Mr Jas. J. 
Scott, who is the present Engineer, 
Manager and Secretary. 

Much of the success of the Company 
was due to the energy and enterprise 
of Mr J. B. Scott. He was one of the 
foremost gas engineers of his day, and 
his work for the Gas Industry in Scot- 
land was appreciated and recognised by 
the industry. 

On the death of Mr George Terris he 
was succeeded by his son, Mr James A. 
Terris, as secretary until his retirement 
in 1931. 

Mr James Hutton, chairman, died in 
1923, and to his courage, guidance and 
foresight the Company owes much of 
its success. 

He was succeeded by the present 
chairman, Mr J. Miller Thomson. 

In the meantime, as stated previously, 
the Town Council introduced electric 
lighting for their streets, and despite 
great inconvenience through damage to 
their cables by underground workings, 
gradually improved the system until 
now the street lighting is among the 
best in the country. 


Mr McAughey, First Burgh Foreman 


The first church, Kirk of Beath, though 
it is not actually in the Burgh, has 
already been dealt with. As the village 
grew, there were naturally a number of 
" seceeders," and there was a demand for 
a church to suit their faith. The first 
church then was the Free Church, built 


History of Cowdenbeath 



in 1862 in Factory Road, and the build- 
ing is now used as a blacksmith's shop. 
Mr Johnmann, a young man, was the 
first to be put in charge of the congre- 
gation, and he was followed after a few 
years by the Rev. Andrew Anderson. It 
was not a wealthy congregation by any 
-means, and the minister and the con- 
gregation had often a difficult task to 
get as much money as give the minister 
little more than a bare existence. There 
was no manse for some time, but later 
the congregation erected the present 
manse in Broad Street. The next 
minister was the Rev. James Muir, and 
during his ministry the present Guthrie 
Free Church was erected in High Street. 
Soon afterwards the present Cairns U.P. 
Church was built in Church Street, and 
some time later the Baptist Church in 
Chapel Street. 

The ministers of all the churches were 
very popular, and the services and bible 
classes and Sunday schools were very 
well attended. 

In the Guthrie Church, Mr Muir was 
followed in order by the Rev. Thomas 
Mitchell, the Rev. J. G. Dawson Scott, 
the Rev. John Wood, the Rev. Thomas 
Weir, the Rev. George Baird and the 
Rev. Dr G. B. Burnet. 

Mr Gilmour. 

The Rev. Mr Gilmour was first minis- 
ter of the Cairns U.P. Church, and 
although he received many tempting 

offers from other churches he remained 
in Cowdenbeath for very many years 
before he accepted a call to Gateshead. 
He was succeeded in order by the Rev. 
J. J. Munro, the Rev. Alex. Stewart, the 
Rev. J. Salmond and the Rev. R. Douglas 

Rev. J. J. Munro. 

The Rev. J. Munro was the first minis- 
ter of the Baptist Church. Ho was 
followed by the Rev. — HendtM-son. 
who was followed by the Rev. J. 
Bennet. under whose ministry the 
Church was considerably extended. He 
was followed in order by the Rev. J. B. 
Frame, the Rev. T. J. Harvey. Rev. A. 
McKenzie. Rev. J. E. Watson. Rev. E. II. 
Grant, Rev. James Duff. Rev. Thomas 
McCIure and the Rev. F. Morris 

Beath Church at Kirk of Beath always 
remained a favourite, especially among 
the older people of the Parish. For 
many years the Rev. John Sinclair was 
a prominent personage in the religious 
life of the town, and while he upheld 
the dignity of his profession, he im- 
parted into it the lovable nature and the 
other beautiful traits one likes to associ- 
ate with such a calling. 

History of Cowdenbeath 



Following the formation of the Burgh 
there arose a desire on the part of a 
number of the members of Beath 
Church congregation to have a place of 
worship inside the town, and this took 
practical shape when, in 1894, a petition 
was drawn up to have a Chapel of Ease 
erected at Cowdenbeath. The matter 
was taken up jointly by the Presbyteries 
of Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy, and 
eventually at a meeting held at Cowden- 
beath in July 1894 it was decided to 
build a church. The following trustees 
were appointed : —Mr D. O. Duff, Mr A. 
R Dick, Mr Andrew Wilson, Mr Sydney 
Binning and Mr Millar, Auchtertool, 
and the church was designed to serve 
Cowdenbeath and Little Raith. The 
Rev. Mr Sinclair of Beath and the Rev. 
Mr Stevenson of Auchtertool were ap- 
pointed Joint Conveners of the Commit- 
tee in charge of the matter- 

considerable number of the members 
were of the opinion that Mr Aitken 
would carry on as minister of the new 
church, but when they went to the 
forenoon service they found the church 
door locked. Mr Aitken addressed them 
at the door, and stated that he could do 
nothing as far as that service was con- 
cerned, but he asked them to come back 
in the afternoon. Again they found the 
church door locked, but they took the 
matter into their own hands and forced 
an entrance, and Mr Aitken preached to 
a crowded church. 

He never preached in the church 
again, and shortly afterwards he accep- 
ted a call to a charge in -the West of 

The Rev. John Henderson was after- 
wards appointed and inducted as first 

Rev. J. Muir 

Before this, a mission was being 
carried on in Brunton's Hall, the pulpit 
supply of which was under the direction 
of the Rev. Mr Sinclair. At the time of 
the completion of the new church in 
1897, the Rev. J. Aitken was in charge 
of the mission. The first Sunday after 
the church was completed was a memor- 
able one in the history of the church. A 

Rev. J. W. Emslie. 


History of Cowdenbeath 

minister of the charge. He was suc- 
ceeded in order by the Rev. Jas. Francis, 
the Rev. Robert Muir, the Rev. John 
Emslie, the Rev. John McMorland, the 
Rev. A. McKenzie, the Rev. T. McAus- 
lane and the present minister, the Rev. 
R. H. Porter. 

There is no Episcopalian Church in the 
Burgh, but there are several Episco- 
palians who attend St Finian's Episco- 
palian Church in Lumphinnans Road. 

The Salvation Army, whose hall is at 
the corner of Stenhouse Street and Hall 
Street, has been in the Burgh ever since 
its formation, and they have carried on 
in good times and bad their work among 
the poor classes of the town. 

Rev. R. H. Porter 


A prominent church dignitary associ- 
ated with Cowdenbeath passed away a 
year ago in the person of the Rev. Archi- 
bald McCaig, the Principal of the Baptist 
Church College in London. Mr McCaig 
was one of a few enthusiasts who were 
responsible for the beginning of the 
Baptist Church at Cowdenbeath. While 
at Cowdenbeath, he married Miss 
Orrock, sister of Mr James Orrock, who 
was for many years a carting contractor 
in the town. After leaving Cowden- 
beath, he always kept up a close con- 
nection with the town which he knew 
so well as a village, and a few years ago 

Mr McCaig. 

he paid a visit and was the guest of 
Bailie Blarney. . 

Many years ago two evangelistic com- 
panies of different creeds used to meet 
every night at the junction of High 
Street and Broad Street and, at about 
twenty-five yards apart, told their audi- 
ences how they should be converted 
according to their respective creeds. The 
two companies gradually drew nearer 
each other, and this resulted in a com- 
petition of lung power between the dif- 
ferent orators. One night the audiences 
got mixed up and a number of heated 
debates ensued between the opposing 
evangelists. Matters looked very bad 
until the Salvation Army, who used to 
meet close by and were waiting to start 
their meeting, entered the " arena," and 
the Captain implored all parties to stop 
their squabble and " not give the game 
away." This the large crowd greatly 
enjoyed, and the appeal must have had 
its effect, for both parties never returned 
and the Salvation Army thereafter got 
the pitch to themselves. 

The Union of the Free Church and the 
United Presbyterian Church into the 
United Free Church was accepted very 
quietly in Cowdenbeath, but the subse- 
quent Union of the Church of Scotland 
and the United Free Church was not 
accepted so quietly. A number of the 
objectors formed themselves into what 

History of Cowdenbeath 


was at first known as the United Free 
Continuing Church, which has now re- 
verted to the United Free Church of 
Scotland, and its members now worship 
in Wardlaw Street in a building which 
was previously a stable. 

There is also a church in Perth Road 
originally provided by the Home Mission 
Committee of the United Free Church, 
to serve the needs of Lumphinnans and 
the surrounding district. The first 
minister of this church was the Rev. 
Angus Macdonald, whose ministry ex- 
tended from 1902 to 1937. Mr Macdon- 
ald was succeeded by the present minis- 
ter, the Rev. Alexander Hutchison. 

The Roman Catholic Church in Sten- 
house Street was erected in 1921, largely 
by the efforts of Father O'Brien, who 
was the priest then in charge. Before 
the erection of this church the services 
were held in the Roman Catholic 
Primary School in Stenhouse Street. 
Associated with this church there may 
be specially mentioned the names of 
Father Mclntyre, Father O'Brien, Father 
Green, Father McQuire (now a bishop) 
and Father Kenny. 

In addition to the above churches, 
there are several smaller places of public 
worship for meetings of inhabitants 
who hold different beli^ Among them 
may be mentioned the Church of Christ 
and the Christian Union in Broad Street, 
the Church of God in Bridge Street, 
with other meeting places in Natal Place 
and Victoria Rooms, High Street, and 
the Spiritualist Association in Waverley 
Rooms, School Street. There is also a 
Gospel Mission in Union Street presided 
over by Mr Streets, through whose 
efforts a modern building was erected in 


In the early nineties when public- 
house and hotel accommodation was 
greatly extended, temperance work 
flourished, and there were three Good 
Templar Lodges. There was the original 
Lodge, The Anchor of Hope, in which 
there were three enthusiasts— the late 
Provost Russell, Provost Blarney and Mr 
W. J. Holman (now resident in Wales). 
Next followed the Gordon Lodge, in 
which a leading spirit was Mr Ferguson. 
The third was the Waverley Lodge, m 
which prominent members were Mr 
James Barclay (now the Rev. James 

Mr W. J. Holman 

Rev, James Barclay 

Barclay), Mr F. J. Robertson, Mr T. 
McAughey, Miss Mary Tulloch and Miss 
Mary Laing. These lodges met weekly, 
and a large number of men now in 
public life owe their lessons in public 
speaking to the debates held in lodge 
rooms. It is a strange coincidence that 
these lodges only nourished when 
public-house trade was also very strong, 


History of Cowdenbeath 

and with the reduction in the consump- 
tion of intoxicants the Good Templar 
Lodges gradually went out of existence. 
The Rechabites and Sons of Temperance 
have still carried on, owing to some 
extent to the fact that they are Friendly 
Societies and distribute sick and other 


The Y.M.C.A. was first started at Cow- 
denbeath approximately fifty years ago. 
The members were not numerically 
strong, but they were enthusiastic, 
though they did not have the same 
opportunities for activities as the 
Y.M.C.A. affords to-day. They met 
every Sunday morning in a room in 
Cowdenbeath Public School when, after 
opening with prayer and a hymn or 
psalm, a member gave a "paper" on an 
interesting and generally topical sub- 
ject. The membership numbered about 
a dozen, and the meeting always finished 
in time for the members to go to their 
respective churches at a quarter past 
eleven. The leading members were 
Miss Masterton, sister of Mr Masterton, 
late of Foulford School; Miss Roe, Miss 
Currall, sewing mistress in Cowdenbeath 
School; Mr Tern Beveridge and his 
brother Walter, and Mr Joseph Holman, 
now in charge of Foyers Church, Inver- 

For a long time the Y.M.C.A. lay 
dormant until it was revived about 
twenty years ago, when the Association 
acquired a billiard saloon and house in 
No. 7 Pit' Road. They were quite suc- 
cessful in their various activities till 
these were cut short by the outbreak of 
the war, when their premises were 
taken over for a First-aid Post. They 
are now occupying temporary rooms in 
High Street. The members set to and 
not only made these rooms suitable for 
their meeting place but have also 
installed there a canteen for members 
of the Forces. 




Though Cowdenbeath was once re- 
ferred to — and quite correctly— as a 
town of sportsmen, they have only 

reached prominence in one section of 
sport, and that, as is generally known, 
is football. In this sport there is only 
one competition from which they have 
never brought distinction to the town 
and that is the Scottish Cup, for in one 
season they finished up with a worthy 
position in .the First Division of the 
League table. Honours in the Scottish 
Cup have always evaded them, and 
sportsmen as they are, bad luck and 
misfortune has attributed to their failure 
on at least two occasions. In 1880 there 
were at least two junior teams in the 
village — Cowdenbeath Rangers and 
Cowdenbeath Thistle — while a third was 
in existence for a few years at a later 
date: Moss Rovers. The original team 
was the Rangers, and their origin makes 
very interesting reading. In the 
seventies, three families came to reside 
at Cowdenbeath from Ayrshire • — 
Dougarys, Pollocks and Fergusons — and 
have remained there ever since. In one 
family especially, that of Pollock, there 
was a number of sons who were keen 
football players, and of these sons two 
were very clever on the ball. It is a 
strange feature that all these teams 
nourished in the South end of the 
village. The Thistle played near Thistle 
Street and the Moss Rovers played near 
the Moss Houses, and the Rangers 
played in the Jubilee Park. 

Mrs Pollock. 

History of CowderJbeath 


• I 


By this time there were several senior 
teams in the county, including the 
strong-going Lassodie and Burntisland, 
Raith Rovers, Kelty and Lochgelly 
Athletic (which became Lochgelly 
United). It was thus apparent that Cow- 
denbeath, to get a place in the football 
of the county, had to follow suit, and a 
combination of the Thistle and Rangers 
brought this about. It was thus possible 
to get together such players as Paterson 
(goalkeeper), J. Dougary, J. Drummond 
(backs), Bob Law and Lee (half-backs), 
and the following forwards: John and 
James Pollock, the Geddes brothers, 
Gray, and the Lister brothers. There 
were many reserve players, and the sec- 
retary was John Miller, a miner, who 
occupied that position for at least three 
years before the secretarial work was 
taken over by John Bolton, son of the 
Cowdenbeath Stationmaster, who now 
lives in retirement in Dunfermline. 

A junior team was formed a few years 
later called St Leonards, and they played 
on a pitch in Moss-side Road near the 
present Guthrie Church manse. This 
club provided several outstanding 
players for Cowdenbeath. 

The new senior team soon made a 

James Pollock. 

name for themselves, as we find two 
years later they won the Fife Cup after 
participating in the final of the Fife 
Consolation Cup. They made up their 

minds to do better the next year, and 
were successful in winning the County 
Cup, and two of their victories were 
against the very strong Burntisland 
Club and their keen rivals, Dunfermline 

Dauid Pollock. 

Club, whom they defeated in the final 
by two goals to nothing. 

The Club set their minds then on 
bigger things, and two years later were 
in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, 
but, alas! at Cambuslang they went out 
of the competition. 


The want of finances was a serious 
drawback to the struggling club. The 
weekly wages of the team could not 
be blamed for that, as they not only 
played for nothing but they actually 
paid so much a week as members of the 
club. They were the playing members, 
but there were others who also were 
paying and non-playing members. 


Often when playing in a cup tie some 
distance from Cowdenbeath there was a 
struggle to raise the necessary money 
to buy the railway tickets. John Miller. 


Hiswry of Cowdenbeath 

the secretary, on one occasion when the 
team had to go to Renton, could not raise 
the amount and, as had been his custom, 
appealed to the stationmaster to get the 
tickets without immediate payment, but 
he got a refusal. There was a hurried 
visit to Mr Charles McLean of the Old 
Inn, but he reminded Mr Miller that 
they had not cleared off the last loan — 
and there was nothing doing. The train 
was coming in and the disconsolate team 
were about to leave the station when 
the stationmaster relented, and off they 
set for Renton. They were again to be 
disappointed, for, after their dinner in 
Glasgow, they were informed that the 
Scottish Cup tie was off as the pitch was 
unplayable. However, they engaged a 
brake with the hope that they would yet 
get the tie played, but it was definitely 
off and they had their journey for 

Mr David Pollock, referred to in this 
article on football, was also one of the 
original members of Cowdenbeath 
Angling Club. 

custody of the Fife Cup. These seasons 
were 1888-89, 1889-90, and 1890-91. 

A Cowdenbeath veteran who was a 
faithful supporter, Davie Pollock, 
brother of the two wingers, states that 
in his opinion the team who really 
brought and kept the Fife Cup in Cow- 
denbeath were : — Paterson ; Dougary 
and Drummond; Law and Lee, Fitz- 
patrick, James Pollock, Cook, A. Geddes, 
Robert Geddes and John Pollock. 

Paterson was afterwards the station 
lorryman, Dougary was killed in a min- 
ing accident, Drummond was one of 
three football brothers, the others being 
George and Tom; Bob Law was one of 
the heroes of the Donibristle Disaster, 
and John Pollock died a few years ago 
in Wales, where he became a brilliant 

Before the Club removed to the North 
End Park there were other notables in 
the Cowdenbeath team, and one cannot 
forget such prominent players as Willie 
Cowan, the iron man, as left back; and 
Davie Hughes, who rightly is still looked 

Old Coivdenbeath Football Team. 

Left to right, back row — H. Geddes, Dow, Hynd, Savage, Law and Thom- 
son. Front row — Beveridge, Hughes, A. Geddes. Graham and A. Todd. 
Sitting — Weir and Penman. 

fife cup champions. upon as the best exponent of football 

that ever the county has produced. 
Disappointed in the Scottish Cun, they Cowan died a few months ago at Cow- 
again set out to be at least champions denbeath, but Davie Hughes had a tragic 
of Fife, and we find them for three years death when he was found suffocated at 
in succession winning and retaining the the Alice Pit near Cowdenbeath, 

History of Cowdenbeath 



Their continued success in the Fife 
Cup made them turn their eyes again 
to the Scottish Cup, and in the same 
year, 1890-91 they had another strong 
bid, but though they reached the sixth 
round they went down at Paisley by the 
decisive score of eight goals to two. For 
several years Cowdenbeath Club did 
nothing outstanding, but in 1894 they 
again came to the front, and though they 
had only fair success in the Scottish and 
Qualifying Cups, they had a really good 
team in: — Lindsay; Allan and Wood; 
Paton, Stewart and Nicol; Dryburgh, 
Collins, Johnstone, Beveridge and 

By 1901 other players had joined the 
team, and this photograph, taken at that 
time, shows the players to have been as 
givn on photograph on previous page. 

In the team published, there are 
several missing, such as the Pollocks, J. 
Dougary. John Drummond, Lee, Fitz- 
patrick and Cook. 


Their play was Cowdenbeath's un- 
doing to a certain extent, for already 
professionalism had entered into the 
game, and Cowdenbeath lost a number 
of their stars. At this stage the village 
postie. Christie, had become secretary, 
and he signed on two Hearts players- 
Philip and Pringle. Philip for several 
years afterwards had a billiard saloon in 
the town. 

Taking advantage of the bidding for 
good players. Cowdenbeath commenced 
to be a training school for football 
players, and many who trained at the 
North End and later at Central Park 
were transferred at big transfer fees. 


The Great War in the meantime came 
along and interfered with their success 
as League champions. By this time 
Sandy Paterson had come on the scene 
as a manager. Sandy was a Hill of 
Beath man with varied experiences as a 
player and manager of Hearts of Beath, 
and it was under his management that 
the team gained their promotion to the 
First Division of the Scottish League. 
He had the necessary support from Mr 
A- R. Dick, a gentleman who had for 

Mr A. R Dick. 

Mr W. G. Hodge. 

many years devoted his energies and 
outstanding business ability to the rais- 
ing of the standard of the game at Cow- 
denbeath. Under his chairmanship the 
club flourished, and he became a promi- 
nent figure not only in Fife football but 



History of Cowdenbeath 

among the Scottish legislators. The 
game was taken to Central Park, and 
with the erection of the large and com- 
modious stand and enclosure became 
one of the finest equipped and appointed 
in Scotland. The war passed, and Cow- 
denbeath set their plans to secure 
Scottish Cup honours. In the first year 
after the war they were on a fair way 
for this honour. 

In 1921 a new Second Division was 
formed, with relegation and promotion. 
By this time several stars were in the 
team, including Adam Scott Duncan 
(now manager of Ipswich Town), Dick 
Little, J. R. Smith, Dodds of Celtic fame, 
and Bobby Tait. 

In season 1923-24 more good players 
were picked up to play along with stars. 
In the former class were Bill Murray 
and Hooky Leonard. Bill is now man- 
ager of Sunderland Club and Leonard 
had a hectic but brilliant career while it 
lasted. Cowdenbeath Club gained pro- 
motion, being second to St Johnstone. 
Scott Duncan was induced to take over 
the manager's position, as Sandy Pater- 
son had gone to Dunfermline, where he 

raised Dunfermline to the First League 
as well. Cowdenbeath carried on in the 
First Division for a number of years, but 
were again relegated in 1933-34. After 
a few years in the Second Dipision, a 
bold bid was made in 1939, when they 
won the Second Division Championship 
with a record pointage, and Walls as 
centre established a record in scoring 
goals. By this time Mr William Hodge 
had been appointed President. Bill 
never posed as an authority on the finer 
points of football, but he was all the 
time out to do his very best for the 

Again the war had interfered with 
the Club just after gaining success, but 
there is no doubt that, after hostilities 
cease, the sporting instinct of the town 
will again rise and football will again 

Of all the players born and bred in 
the town, the most outstanding has 
been "Ally" Venters. 

Adam Scott Duncan, a prominent 
Rangers' player who became manager 
of Cowdenbeath Football Club in its 
days of prosperity and is now manager 
of "Ipswich Town. He is married to * 
well-known Cowdenbeath lady. 

Mr John McDougall of Cowdenbeath, 
who was disabled in the Great War, and 
who reached the final of one-artned 
players' Scottish Championship. He is 
at present captain of Kinghorn Golf 


History of Cowdenbeath 


GOLF. . 

Golf followed, when the principal 
men interested who played on the first 
course of Leuchatsbeath were Dr 
Naismith, John Bolton, John A. R. 
Finlay, Andrew Lindsay and James 
Stormonth. The game obtained a very 
strong footing after the new course was 
laid down by Cowdenbeath Public- 
House Society at the North end of the 


Curling was also a favourite sport, 
and prominent players were Archie 
Hodge. Jimmy Orrock, Andrew Wilson, 
John Paul, Charlie Barclay, John 
Finlay, etc. A common challenge was 
that of Jimmy Orrock that he would 
play Archie Hodge for a bag o 1 meal. 


Cricket followed in due course with 
enthusiasts like Sydney Binning, the 
Beattie brothers, Sandy Rankine, David 
Adams, Geordie Syme, Willie Syme and 
Sandy Stevenson. 


Bowling is definitely one of the sports 
that has come to stay. Cowdenbeath 
Bowling Club have a green at Bowling 
Green Street, and there is another green 
at the rear of the Miners' Welfare Insti- 
tute in Broad Street. 

Mr G. S. Eastwood, a county cricketer 

Sydney Bin?ti7ig. 

Mr John Ford 
(Cowdenbeath centenarian) 


History of Coivdcnbeath 


Mr Hohnan 
(Chairman of Public-House Society) 


This Society, which was formed in 
1901. became the owners of the public- 
house premises situated at the corner of 
High Street and Station Road. Between 
1901 and 1925 they gave away in grants 
for social an*d charitable purposes the 
sum of £18.931, of which £4,380 was 
towards the cost of a District Nurse, 
£7.016 for a Public Park, and £3,379 for 
the Golf Course, laid out and opened in 
1910 by Tom Ball and Ben Sayers. 

Lieut. W. K. Barclay, founder of 

Cowdenbeath Rifle Club' and original 

officer of Cowdenbeath Territorials, a 

victim of last war. 

Miss Alexander, a gold medal vocalist 

Mr R. Black 
(Promoter of Old Folk's Treat) 

History of Coxodenbeath 


Early days of motoring. Cowdenbeath Councillors' Day Out. 
Provost Penman, Councillor H, Kelso, Provost Wilson and Provost Barclay. 

Mr Excans (a veteran violin maker) Mr W. M. Crooks 

(A.R.P. Deputy Area Controller) 

History of Cowdenbeath 

Coii;de?ibeat/i Bowling Green veterans at play 

Mr C. C. Reid 
(General Manager, Fife Coal Co.) 

Provost Barclay 

History of Cowdenbeath 

Mr Westwater (veteran newsagent and 
first member of Cairns Church) 


History of Cowdenbeath 


Mr W. M. Watson. 

A Cowdenbeath minister who had left 
the town before Mr Watson hud been 
elected Member of Parliament for Dun- 
fermline Burghs stated that he well 
remembered a young man coming up 
Hi;;h Street of Cowdenbeath with 
several volumes under his arm, and 
tha~ inquiry might have shown that the* 
authors were such men as Rus'kin, 

Mr W. M. Watson, M.P. 

Carlyle, Adam Smith or Karl Marx. To 
those who know William Watson best 
that must appeal to them as his best pen 
portrait. One feels that he has been 
the victim of politics, and, while no one 
can gainsay that he has served his con- 
stituency faithfully and well, the strong 
probability . is that if he had been 
allowed to carry on his studies, his 
friends and the country at large would 
have been better off to-day. 

Willie Watson was a student of 
psychology and the social conditions of 
the times, and his great ambition was 
that he would be able to benefit the 
working classes of the country with 
whose interests he was so closely allied. 

Himself a member of a miner's family, 
by his experience underground he 
gained an inside knowledge of the 
common lot of the coal miner, whose 
value and worth to the country have 
never been properly recognised. This 
experience was worth all the privations 

he endured and the inconveniences he 
" tholed." He could quite easily have 
mastered the studies that would have 
made him in time a qualified colliery 
manager, but such a prospect was not 
to his liking. His experiences and his 
favourite books pointed out to him a 
far more satisfying way of doing his 
best for his fellow-men by improving 
their working and social conditions. It" 
was in this direction that he set his com- 
pass. He was a practical psychologist 
and social reformer for, after gaining ;.; 
large amount of knowledge, he associ- 
ated himself with the small band of 
socialist workers in the town who, like 
him. devoted their energies to the rais- 
ing of the standard of the working 
classes. That small coterie was not a 
popular one and he, like the rest, had 
often to bear the hard and unjust 
criticism of those whom they were out 
to help. Many a strong man would 
have replied to that criticism and 
ostracism by taking less interest in the 
affairs of those whom they strove to 
serve, but he and the others were made 
of sterner stuff and continued to do what 
they had set out to do. Their work bore 
fruit and socialism became something 
real. Labour took an active interest in 
municipal and Parliamentary affairs, 
and it is to the credit of the large num- 
ber of those who had changed their 
politics to that of labour that they chose 
one who had done so much spade work 
in the past as their Parliamentary repre- 
sentative. Into the maelstrom of 
politics went Willie Watson. He has 
been an ideal Member of Parliament, 
especially in his work behind the 
scenes. He has never let his private 
affairs interfere with the interests of his 
constituents, and this to such an extent 
that his private life scarcely exists. No 
one in trouble and needing advice or 
assistance is ever turned away, and no 
bar of politics or creed is allowed. 

One feels, however, that Willie Wat- 
son's life of usefulness has been 
hampered rather than helped by his 
uotitical life and that he would have 
been truer to himself and his friends of 
the working classes had he worked from 
the outside rather than the inside of 
Parliament. This is the day of 

History of Cowdenbeatli 




specialists, and there is a strong' belief 
that had h-; not been thrust into Parlia- 
ment the labour world and the world 
in general would to-day have had in Mr 
Watson an international authority on 
world affair:;. 

In conclusion, a fitting tribute to Mr 
Watson is contained in the following 
lines by Mr J. C. Welsh, the Miners' 

"As const lint us the ocean tide, as loyal a > 
the sun; 
If I coii'd pick fair Virtue's sides, Will 

Watson would be one. 
And virtue would not blush to own this 

member of her team, 
Too good to push himself alone, too honest 
to be mean." 

Mrs E. Watson. 

In compiling the history of Cowden- 
beath a place must be set aside for a 
lady who has been prominent in the 
social life of the town, Mrs W. M. 

The wives of many Members of Par- 
liament are known only because of the 
fact that, they are so, but this is not the 
case with Mrs Watson, who is quite as 

Mrs Watson. 

popular and well known in the town 
and community as her husband and 
where her name is truly a household 

Brought up in Cowdenbeath, she 
became first a pupil and later a teacher 
in Cowdenbeath Public School, where 
she gained an experience that was 
valuable to her when she became a 
member of Beath School Board in 1911. 

Three years later she became Chairman 
of that body, which position she held 
until the Education Act of 1918 came 
into force. By this time she had made 
her presence felt in educational affairs 
as she was the prime mover of the free 
books scheme which was introduced in 
the Parish of Beath, and later through- 
out Fife. She continued her activities 
as a member of Fife Education Com- 
mittee and served on that body until 

She was elected a member of Cow- 
denbeath Town Council in 1936, and lot- 
four years she has represented the 
Burgh on Fife County Council. 

For twenty-two years she has been x 
member of the Board of Management of 
Cowdenbeath Co-operative Society — a 
record for a lady — and has been Presi- 
dent of the Co-operative Women's Guild 
for Scotland for four years. For four- 
teen years she has been associated with 
the Cowdenbeath Nursing Association, 
and has been a hard worker on the War 
Pensions Committee from 1915 till the 
present time. She was one of the lead- 
ing persons in the W.V.S.. one of three 
selected for Scotland, and is now acting 
in connection with the Price of Goods 
Act for East and South of Scotland, and 
for the Food Control Committee for the 
same area. She was closely associated 
with the I.L.P. until the split when the 
Labour Party left that body. 

Mrs Watson has had various honours 
conferred on her, including that of 
Justice of the Peace, and O.B.E. after 
the last War. Mrs Watson does not 
parade these honours. An official of 
the Education Authority who is 
acquainted with her work on public 
bodies writes as follows: — 

" When I want to draw a mental 
picture of Mrs Watson under the best 
conditions I recall a picture of her in 
the Special School at Cowdenbeath. 
She was responsible for this school 
being brought into existence, a school 
for the education of* backward children. 
As a teacher, she was well aware of the 
tragic fate of backward children. 
Teachers could not afford to set the pace 
of education of a class on the ability of 
the slowest pupil. They were simply 
left behind and neglected, and when 
they did leave school it was not because 
they had reached a satisfactory educa- 
tional standard but that they had 



History of Cowdenbeath 

reached the leaving age. Thus, she 
often saw the tragedy of a child of 
twelve to fourteen years of age, accord- 
ing to the leaving age, being thrust into 
the world with a mental age of between 
seven and nine years, with not the 
slightest chance of competing for posi- 
tions in life that required a small 
amount of education. This set her 
thinking, and, mainly through her 
efforts, the Special School came into 
existence at Cowdenbeath. There, each 
child is taught according to his or her 
ability. Patience is expended on them, 
and the educational results have been 
extraordinary. One pupil I know rose 
to be manager of a grocer's shop, and 
others are now filling positions they 
otherwise would not have had the 
slightest chance of securing but for the 
Special School. Mrs Watson had first 
to break down the prejudice of the 
School Board and, worse and more 
annoying, the prejudice of the parents 
who were out against their children 
going to a ' daft ' school. Many a one 
would have replied to such undeserved 
opposition by simply giving them their 
own way because of their lack of 
appreciation, but not Mrs Watson. She 
knew she was right and she has won 
out, but I often wonder if she will ever 
receive the proper appreciation which 
she deserves. 

i( The picture I referred to is of her 
in the Special School at Cowdenbeath, 
standing amongst the boys and girls all 
so happy in her presence. These child- 
ren got their chance in life from Mrs 
Watson, and cherished letters from them 
and memories of their laughing faces is 
one reward of her labours which sho 
will always cherish. *' 

Mr Archibald Hodge. 

Of all the early inhabitants of Cow- 
denbeath the greatest all-round person- 
ality was undoubtedly Mr Archibald 
Hodge, who had a large share in the 
development and shaping of the town. 
Archie came, as a boy. with his parents 
from Kelty. After school Archie found 
employment in the coal mines, and his 
work was of such a satisfactory nature 
that he became an underground official. 
As the coal industry prospered the time 
came for the sinking of another shaft, 
and Archie became responsible for the 
sinking of the well-known No. 3 Pit. 

It was only natural, therefore, when the 
sinking was completed that he should 
be appointed as "Gaffer" of the Pit. 
Under his capable management the pit 
proved to be a successful venture and to 
a large extent contributed to the success 
of Cowdenbeath Coal Company. He 
worked hard in the interests of his 
employers, and it is related that on one 
occasion when in a hurry to get down 
the pit, instead of waiting for the cage 

Mr Hodge. 

to go down, he slid down the cage rope. 
He was always very considerate of the 
men under him. especially of the older 
men who had spent the best part of 
their lives in the coal mine, and as long 
as they were able to go down the pit 
and do some sort of work he allowed 
them to carry on. In these days of 
oncost work, 'whether down the pit or 
on the surface, a man's authority to 
work was the getting of a shovel from 
the gaffer. Archie gave the old men 
each a shovel, and though he did not 
look for more work than they were able 
to do, and some did very little, they 
dare not discard their shovel if he was 
around, and the mere fact that an old 
man had his shovel was sufficient 
indication that he was earning his 
wages. On the other hand, he expected 
the general worker to earn the wages 
paid him. Some time later he took oyer 
the licensed grocer's business belonging 


History of Cowdenbeath 



to James Meikle in High Street, and 
with the help of his two daughters, 
Jenny and Maggie, that business pros- 
pered. Eventually, he left the manage- 
ment of the shop to his elder daughter, 
but he was never far away from the 
premises. He was a man of very few 
words and of a gruff exterior. He was 
anything but sociable in conversation, 
but those who really knew him found 
that this, abrupt manner of conversation 
was a very effective, cloak for his highly 
generous nature and for his abhorrence 
of anything that was not straight or 

Take another side of his character. 
He always paid his way by meeting 
accounts as early as possible and never 
liked to be asked for money, so that one 
day when a commercial traveller pre- 
sented his bill with a tone of " payment 
wanted now " Erchie said nothing, but 
went into his office and returned with 
the money. The traveller signed the 
account, adding "Paid with thanks," 
but Erchie was not having that. "Na. 
na," man, just you write doon there 
' Paid wi' cash.' " 

Here is a story which is retailed 
at the risk of arousing the displeasure 
of the family, but it is told in an effort 
to illustrate his true character and to 
remove any erroneous misconception 
from the minds of those who did not 
know him. The premises of the old 
Cowdenbeath Reading Room, the use of 
which had been given to the community 
by Cowdenbeath Coal Company free of 
rent and taxes and with free coal and 
light, became too small and the Com- 
mittee were anxious to enlarge the 
building and provide a games room and 
improve the lending library and reading 
room accommodation. Plans were pre- 
pared, and the cost was estimated to be 
in the region of a thousand pounds. 
The Committee had less than one 
hundred pounds in hand. The matter 
was discussed in all its aspects. 
Eventually, two men were appointed to 
interview Erchie Hodge. The interview 
ended something like this: — 

"Do ye ken what ye are thinking 

" Do ye ken the property is no yours 
and the Fife Coal Company can turn 
ye oot at a meenut's notice? " 

" Yes, we have considered that." 

" And do ye still want to cairry on 

wi' the alterations? " 

" Yes." 

" An' hoo are ye gaun to pey it back?" 

" We cannot guarantee, but we are 
hoping for the best." 

"Weel, weel," said Erchie, "if ye 
think it." With that he turned and left 
the deputation, who thought that was 
the end of the matter so far as he was 
concerned, but not so, for in two 
minutes' time he returned with the sum 
required to make the alterations. 

" How will we pay you back? " they 

" Jist hoo ye like, and ye needna 
bother aboot ony interest on the money. 
I'll just tak' the siller when you hae it 
tae gie me." 

Archie was a keen bowler and -a 
keener curler, and was first President of 
Cowdenbeath Bowling Club. He was 
treasurer of the Cowdenbeath Ambul- 
ance Waggon Association for several 
years, and when he retired the Com- 
mittee showed their appreciation of his 
services by presenting him with a piece 
of silver, but instead of thanking them 
in the usual manner he gave them a 
severe scolding for daring to spend their 
money on him. 

All they got was " Ye had nae 
business daeing that and I'm no wanting 
that," and the present was not taken 
out of the packing that night. 

Still the silver plate, suitably in- 
scribed, will long be cherished by the 
family in memory of their father who 
did so much for Cowdenbeath. 

Just a closing story. Erchie never 
liked to have his photograph taken, but 
one day he allowed this to be done to 
please his family. When he saw the 
result his sole comment was: " Weel, it 
may be a guid likeness, but it's a sorry 

Mr Thomas Blarney. 

Prominent among all public men in 
Cowdenbeath stands out one man, Mi- 
Thomas Blarney. It will be a difficult 
matter to catalogue all the different 
bodies with which Mr Blarney has been 
connected at one time or another, but it 
is sufficient to say that he has devoted a 
lifetime to the interests of the com- 

Mr Blarney, whose parents came from 
Cornwall, was born in one of.the houses 
known as "Diamond Row" in High 


History of Coiudenbeath 


Street. Mr Blarney's father lost his life 
in the pit, and his mother was left to 
bring up a young family on her own 
exertions. • This has given Mr Blarney 
an education that he would otherwise 
have missed, an education that has been 
applied to the benefit of the town and 
its inhabitants. 

An American millionaire once said to 
the writer that he had a great ambition 
to be a journalist and an author, but he 
suffered from one drawback to that 
ambition, and that was his wealth. This 
is true to a very large extent, and the 
people of Cowdenbeath should be 
thankful that Mr Blarney was not born 
with a silver spoon in his mouth. One 
Cowdenbeath man who has been a life- 
long friend of Mr Blarney has stated 
that he has been one of the most mis- 
understood men in public life. One 
reason given for this is that Mr Blarney 
has always refused to be confined in his 
public work by the restrictions of party 
politics. He judges each question 
entirely on its merits and its possible - 
effect on the community, and his 
support or criticism is based only on that 

Over forty years ago he was an active 
member of the Anchor of Hope Good 
Templar Lodge and here learned the 
rules of public debate. He then allied 
himself to the Baptist Church and has 
remained a faithful member. For some 
time he kept out of politics until the 
claims of the working people of the 
country gained his "sympathy and. 
seeing in the Labour Party an oppor- 
tunity to improve the conditions of his 
fellow-workmen, he joined that Party. 
As a member, he believed with the other 
members that their purpose could best 
be served by representation on local 
public bodies, and it was no surprise 
when he was among the first to stand 
election for office. Success attended his 
nominations, and soon he was a member 
of four bodies: — Beath School Board, 
Cowdenbeath Town Council and Fife 
County Council. Having secured such a 
large share of public confidence, he 
fashioned his public work to merit it. 
He studied all the laws and legislation 
which governed those different bodies, 
and to-day he is looked upon as an 
authority on all matters pertaining to 
Local Government. 

This was first of all apparent in 
educational administration, and his 

intimate knowledge of the Education 
Acts helped him greatly as a member of 
Beath School Board and Chairman of 
Beath School Management Committee, 
and later of Fife Education Committee 
and Fife County Council. 
In Town Council administration he 
studied the work of the different de- 
partments, but in one department he 
has excelled himself, that of housing and 
town planning, and, as Convener of the 

Mr Haklane. 

Few persons have risen to prominence 
in music or literature with, perhaps, the 
exception of Mr J. H. Haldane, the well- 
known Brass Band Conductor, whose 
teaching has won honours for several 

Housing Committee he is in his right 
place. In critical debates his intimate 
knowledge of all legislation affecting 
housing has surprised even his nearest 
friends. When convinced that he is 
right he refuses to budge, and though 
he has often accepted with grace the 
majority ruling against him, he often 
found himself in the position of being 
able to say afterwards " I told you so,'' 
but refrained. He is at present Con- 
vener of the A.R.P. Committee of the- 
Town Council and Convener of the 
Public Health Committee of the County 

History, of Cowdenbeath 


His golden rule seems to be:— " Do 
unto others as you would that they 
should do unto you," while his life's 
work might well be fashioned around 
the motto: " Honesty is the best policy, 
but we should not be honest because it 
is the best policy, but because it is 

Jack Jones, hero oj Moss Morran 

The Fight for Freedom 

Cowdenbeath did not show a lack of 
patriotism during the Great War nor is 
she doing so on the occasion of the pre- 
sent war. A large number of her son? 
made the supreme sacrifice in the last 
war _ as the names inscribed on the War 
Memorial on the North End Hill gives 
testimony. At the time of writing, 
although quite a number of Cowden- 
beath natives have been made prisoners 
of war after the capitulation of France, 
only a very few have given their lives 
in this great struggle for freedom and 

Mr McKelvie, R.A.F. 

*Jz ;*• ,Nn Wa % > „ ? v_ 

Private Oliver. 

Corporal Young. 

Safety in Mines 

Despite Government legislation, a re- 
grettable feature of the coal industry 
has been the number of accidents that 
took place, a large percentage of which 
were fatal, and the number increased 
with the introduction of machinery and 
the speeding up of coal production. 

Several years ago, however, the Fife 
Coal Company commenced a greater 
safety campaign, and it has proved to be 
a great success in the reduction in the 
number of accidents. A safety engineer 
was appointed— Dr Williamson — who 
devotes all his time and energy to 
schemes whereby the accidents in mines 
will be reduced to a minimum. Each 
colliery has its safety committee, who 
hold regular meetings when the acci- 
dents are reported in detail, so that such 
accidents can be prevented. Safety 
articles of clothing have been introduced 
and are in general use. 

History of Cowdenbeath 


Safety classes for boys are being held, 
with the result that when a boy com- 
mences work he is fully aware of all 
the dangers that are to. be met with 
during the course of his employment. 

Since the inception of these classes, 
approximately three thousand safety 
certificates have been issued. Besides 
these safety classes for boys there are 
also classes for adults, and it is highly 
significant that the employees are co- 
operating with the management in all 
the various schemes that are accomplish- 
ing so much. The success attained is now 
generally recognised, and . last year 
Captain H. Cruikshanks, Minister of 
Mines, paid a visit to Cowdenbeath to 
get the latest information about the 
greater safety campaign. 

Mine Rescue Station 

Mr Stevenson. 

The Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan 
Coalowners' Association Mine Rescue 
Station is in Stenhouse Street, Cowden- 
beath. In this building a very large 
number of men have been trained in 
mine rescue work. A gentleman closely 
associated with this building is the late 
Mr David Stevenson. He took a very 
prominent interest in ambulance train- 
ing and rescue work in mines, and he 
was the unanimous choice for the posi- 
tion of Superintendent. Following his 
death the appointment of a successor 
naturally fell on his son .Alexander 
Stevenson, who was his father's" first 
assistant and who performed such out- 
standing work in recent mine disasters 
in Scotland, notably Redding, Bowhill, 
and Valleyfield. 

Visit of Captain Cruikshanks. 

'V-'-^>i-' /_ jm. ■ •*, >S 

Presentation of Certificates. 

Among the many photographs in this 
book are several for the use of which 
we are indebted to Messrs Given & 
Paton (Cowdenbeath), the Proprietors 
of the Coiodenbeath. Advertiser, the 
Proprietors of the Dunfermline & West 
Fife Journal, and Cowdenbeath Co-oper- 
ative Society. 

History of Cowdenbeath 



Mrs Watson. Dr W. Reid. 

W. Ewing 



History of Cowdenbeath 


Champion First-aiders from No. 7 Pit, Cowdenbeath. 

Left to right— Sitting— W. Ferguson (capt.K W. Reid (manager). W, E. S. Peach (agent). A. 
Prentice (under-maanger). 
Standing— David Fernie, W. Spittal, A. Bain. T. Bonnar, u"d J. Davidson. 

Raising Cowdenbeath Championship Flag 1939 


History of Cowdenbeath 



Veteran Miners at Play. 

Bowling Clubhouse. 


History of Cowdenbeath 

Rescue Station, 

Y.M.C.A. Gathering at Central Park. 


► .?, 




<®ualtt]t> $robuct£ 



Under present conditions we may not be able to give you the Variety your Tea 

Table demands. But In our Scone Craft, we can, as for the past 25 years, 

satisfy the discrimination of the public for a Girdle Scone made by Craftsmen 

= from the very Finest Materials. ? 

Let not your Table be without them. 


If it is a question of 


// is only commonsense 
to visit 


64 High Street 

Travel in Com fort 
Costs no more . . 


Efficient Service Department 

> nM ■■■uii«i,uii«..i MI >iii«aiiiii« ■■■■■■ 

Beath Motor Co. 

Phone : Cowdenbeath 2270 
Cardenden 242 




Peter Brand 


The House that Value Built 

Drapers Milliners 

Ladies' Childrens' 

Gentlemen's Outfitters 






consult BUILDING CONTRACTOR tel. 2151 




• l ) 

Still Playing the Game 


Suited Cowdenbeath Football 
Public for many years 

He now SUITS the General 

R. C.Tait&Son 

Ladies' and Gent.'s Tailors 

56 Stenhouse Street 

Pay Us a Call— 

- You will not regret it 


public - HOUSE 

(Late Lumphinnans Goth) 

Proprietor - ANDREW DICK 

Everything of the Best 

Every Comfort Guaranteed 



Bridge Street 

Has enjoyed a popularity for 
over forty years for Service and 
Quality still being maintained 

Walker Bros. 

General Haulage Contractors 

Moss^side Road 

Our Motto for Sixty Years : 

m /l Cordial Welcome is assured to all 
Cowdenbeath People when they visit 




Late of OLD INN 

Cowdenbeath's Original Hotel 


Stocks the Best 

And Specialises in 


Always at Hand! 




G. Ferg 




♦ ♦ ♦ 

A knowledge of Cowdenbeath 
Tailoring Requirements gained 
from close on fifty years' 
experience is at your service 


fainter anb JBecorator 


Specialist in Plastic Paint Work 

Largest Selection of Wallpaper in District 

Leylands' Paints -- Sole Stockists 

Estimates for all Classes of Decorations 
Telephones: Cowdenbeath 3112 Dunfermline 293 

House Address: ST. JOHN'S, Halbeath Road, Dunfermline, phone 120 



This community with ever increasing 
satisfaction, utility and convenience 









It is unrivalled in the field of Lighting, 
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Wash Boiler and Heating Processes 
for Commercial and Industrial Purposes. 


contain the Latest and Best Appliances 
for your inspection, and all can be 
obtained on very reasonable terms. 





* * * 




• • • 

Day and Night Service 

Telephone 2254 Cowdenbeath 




All Branches of Halrdressing 
and Beauty Culture carried 
out by Skilled Operators 

ffl ffl a 

7J2 t^f-riali <z~>fteet 


Phone 2224 



After 73 Years still the 


Phone 2165 

INA FERGUSON, Proprietrix 

The Name of . 


lias been a household word 
for ovtr seventy years at 


To-day it is associated with all classes 





Anything Any Where 

Any Time 

Best Service at Lowest Prices 



Telephone 2180 Cowdenbeath 


50 Years 



Annual Trade 
Share Capital 
Total Assets 

When Burgh Formed. 



£5, 1 00 



In addition Valuable Social Service has been rendered to the Community. 

Cowdenbeath Go-operative Society, 


! J. 

Electric Light ! 


at u 

Reasonable Price \ \ 


Expert Workmanship ! ! ! 

Have your House Wired now before 
restrictions make it impossible . . 

A. McFarlane Knuck 

(F.C.G.I. l:l«rt. E..,f.) 

209 High Street 


Phone 3105 


Served at a Moderate Price 
under the Best Conditions 

the ANSWER is 

Central Eetftaurant